Cooke Aquaculture VP of Communications Nell Halse retiring

Published on
December 12, 2017

The public face of one of the largest seafood companies in North America is being replaced.

After 13 years with Cooke Aquaculture, including a difficult year for the company after the escape of thousands of salmon in Washington State, vice president of communications Nell Halse will retire at the end of this year.

The company made the announcement in a press release on 12 December. To replace Halse, Joel Richardson has been hired as vice president of public relations, the company said. Richardson was most recently divisional vice president for the New Brunswick and PEI branch of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and executive director of the Metal Working Association of New Brunswick. He has experience in government relations, municipal leadership, economic and export development and in private business, Cooke said in its release.

“Nell helped build this industry. She had a big role in working with government officials and engaging with people in the communities where we operate to help educate and inform them about our mission to grow responsibly and sustainably,” Cooke Aquaculture CEO Glenn Cooke said. “We’re going to miss Nell a lot.” 

Based in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada, Cooke Aquaculture began as a small salmon farming operation but has become a diversified seafood company with holdings throughout the Americas. During Halse’s tenure at Cooke, the company increased its annual sales from CAD 80 million (USD 62 million, EUR 53 million) to more than CAD 2 billion (USD 1.6 billion, EUR 1.3 billion). This year, Cooke Aquaculture was ranked the top seafood company in North America by SeafoodSource.

Halse played a “critical role” in that growth, Glenn Cooke said. Besides her day-to-day role of running the company’s communications shop, while at Cooke, Halse served as part of the International Salmon Farmers Association, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, and the Maine Aquaculture Association. 

However, Cooke has also faced criticism, including the firestorm that ensued after more than 150,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from a Cooke farm in Washington in August.

“Like any growing company, we have had our challenges, but I always think of the great people I represent and the people I speak for,” Halse said in the press release. “From our dedicated people on the water or in the plants or the hatcheries to our executive team and owners – Cooke is a family company and we are all proud of the work we do and the healthy and delicious food we bring to the table.” 

As a replacement for Halse, Glenn Cooke said Richardson “brings valuable experience and fresh ideas” to the company.

“[He] will help guide our communications and government and public relations efforts going forward,” Cooke said. “We look forward to working with him as we continue to grow our seafood business, here in Atlantic Canada and around the world.”

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