Brussels Blog: Machines, mackerel, and the Prix D’Elite!


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
April 24, 2013

Day 1:

10:30 a.m. Went to the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) booth to hear about a new announcement. The GAA is revamping its standards system to have a single, catch-all set of standards for all species except salmon and mussels. Spoke with Dan Lee, the GAA’s best aquaculture practices coordinator, about the changes on camera. Video on

6 p.m. Attended the main event, the Prix D’Elite awards for product innovation. I spoke to the two grand prize winners, Christine Le Tennier and Sean O’Hanlon, about the products that earned the awards, and what the recognition will mean for them and their company. Videos on

Day 2:

10 a.m. Went to the Seafood Processors Europe (SPE) companion show to check out some of the new equipment on display. I did an interview on camera with Espera’s Herwig Smeets on the company’s brand-new label-reading machine that debuted at the show. It can read plain text on labels moving faster than a human eye can read.

10:30 a.m. Continuing my SPE visit, I spoke with Simon Jahnke, U.K. Sales Director for Baader, about a fish-slicing machine that is returning to the SPE show. It’s only been on the market since 2010, and already the company boasts millions of fish have been processed through its machines. Also on hand to talk about the machine was its designer, Baader’s Michael Jurs. Video on

11:30 a.m. Went to the booth for the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP). The group made some general statements about the quality of their product, in defiance of the criticism that has been levied against Vietnam and its seafood exports. After the statement, I caught up with Dr. Nguyen Dzung, VASEP’s vice president, to talk about how VASEP hopes to change things for the better. Video on

6 p.m. Went to the Oso stand to see the awards presentation, marking the end of the Olivier Roellinger culinary competition. Not only did it feature a French celebrity chef, but it also put a spotlight on sustainable seafood, and that drew the attention of Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, who helped present the awards. Afterward, I was lucky enough to catch Ms. Damanaki for a brief on-camera interview. She talked about the awards, the European Common Fisheries Policy, and also had some somewhat harsh words for the parties responsible for the so-called “mackerel wars” going on in northern Europe right now. Video on

Day 3:

10:30 a.m. Met Hjortur Gislason, chairman of Ogurvik, an Iceland-based company that deals heavily in mackerel. Iceland has taken some criticism in recent years for fishing over its agreed-upon quota. In this interview, Gislason talks about how the biomass has shifted to Icelandic waters, making it safer to pull in larger amounts than usual. Video to come on

11 a.m. Visited the Thailand Pavilion, and watched a Brussels-based Thai chef cook up pan-seared tilapia fillets with red curry sauce. Video to come on

1:45 p.m. Met up with Liz Plizga at our booth to talk about how the show has been going. On-camera interview is on

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