The top SeafoodSource interviews of 2018

Published on
December 25, 2018

The seafood industry in 2018 resembled the waters that it draws its resources from as things like innovation, trade wars, and a changing climate continued to make waves across the globe. 

SeafoodSource interviewed a wide array of fisheries experts from around the world in 2018. Their insights were invaluable in putting together the picture of what’s happening in the seafood world – and what could be expected next. 

Russia’s fisheries, in particular, saw a year of great success in its eastern salmon fishery, and renewed efforts by the government to prioritize modernization. Ilya Shestakov, Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency head, sat down with SeafoodSource at Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium, to overview how the country performed in 2017 and what the future holds for the fishery. He offered his insight on programs to incentivize fleet modernization, the development of aquaculture, and more. 

Speaking of aquaculture, the sector has seen a great deal of investment and innovation in 2018. Recirculating aquaculture systems, or RAS, were the talk of the year, with several high-profile projects being announced within close succession of each other. 

Two of the biggest ended up being announced for locations just 20 miles apart. In January, Norway-based Nordic Aquafarms announced its plans to build a salmon RAS facility in Belfast, Maine that, once all phases are completed, will constitute a USD 500 million (EUR 436 million) investment. More recently, the company opened a new office in Portland, Maine, where SeafoodSource got the chance to learn about the project’s trajectory from Nordic Aquafarms Commercial Director, Marianne Naess.

Just a month after the Nordic Aquafarms announcement, Whole Oceans announced its own salmon RAS project in Bucksport, Maine. The company’s founder and then-CEO Rob Piasio – who has since stepped down into a different role – also gave SeafoodSource insight into the vision behind the project. When completed, Piasio said the firm hopes to produce at least 50,000 metric tons of salmon annually. 

Throughout the year, another story has been constantly evolving, sometimes by the week. The trade war between the United States and China, initiated by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, continued to escalate and evolve throughout 2018. Determining what, exactly, seafood companies could expect was a complicated endeavor. Ian W. Moores, general council at Gloucester, Massachusetts-based F.W. Bryce, Inc., gave extensive insights on the state of trade, and what seafood companies could anticipate as the trade war first started escalating. 

Insight into the workings of companies, especially those in transition, is one topic that isn’t unique to 2018. At the start of the year, Keith Decker, former executive for High Liner, was named CEO of Blue Harvest Fisheries, taking the position from president and CEO Jeff Davis – who had held those positions since the company’s founding. Decker and Davis both shared their vision of Blue Harvest with SeafoodSource soon after.

Regardless of what the vision for a given company is, funding is the primary means of making it a reality. In those instances, investment firms can often be the source of much-needed capital. Aqua-Spark, founded in 2014, is the first investment fund dedicated to sustainable aquaculture. The company’s co-founder and co-managing partner, Mike Velings, shared his perspective on the aquaculture industry, what Aqua-Spark plans on investing in, and what opportunities are on the horizon. 

Opportunity only becomes reality with the input and leadership of figures who see it. Jerry Knecht, the founder and president of Bali, Indonesia-based P.T. Bali Seafood International, and also North Atlantic Inc. in Portland, Maine, is one person who saw opportunity in the Pacific and the sustainability movement

While there is no crystal ball to indicate where the next opportunity lies, there will always be people who – through experience and research – have their finger on the pulse of the industry. Lukas Manomaitis, managing-director of Thailand-based Seafood Consulting Associates, is one of those people. Manomaitis sat down with SeafoodSource to discuss his belief that Africa has huge potential for developing a significant aquaculture industry. 

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