Aquaculture

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Why sustainability is on the board at the world's largest salmon farmer

New appointment elevates company's sustainability agenda and brings focus to new production methods, exec tells IntraFish.

Salmon farming’s ongoing technology revolution will shape a new type of “precision farming” not unlike that of agriculture, Mowi’s newly appointed chief sustainability officer Catarina Martins told IntraFish.

Company Profile: Mowi (Marine Harvest)

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“By being able to use big data, robotics, artificial intelligence to optimize production at sea we will be able to gain efficiencies at many levels and make our production even more sustainable,” she said.

Among developments will be “exciting” new farming methods, including closed containment on sea and land all inter-playing into a more diverse production landscape.

“All will have an important role to play and the future of farming methods is likely to be a mixed one, fine-tuned to the local conditions,” said Martins.

For Mowi, its multiple development licences offer it the opportunity to alleviate risks while it explores some fairly radical possibilities, including "donuts," "eggs," and its most recent sub-sea AquaStorm project.

“It is impossible to rank [these concepts] from a profitability or success perspective at this point in time,” said Martins, adding however that the concept with the “highest degree of novelty and which will create the potential for the biggest shift in technology Mowi clearly believes to be the AquaStorm concept."

Time to put a title on it

Martins' role is a new one at Mowi created because, in her words, "the business case for sustainability is no longer a question."

"From every perspective you look at – whether it is consumer, investor, regulator, or NGO – sustainability simply makes good business sense," Martins said. "The time has come to leverage the sustainability work we have been doing even further by strengthening our sustainability strategy, by proactively communicating our commitments and achievements while at the same time working together with key partnerships such as WWF, seaBOS, GSI [Global Salmon Initiative] and GSSI [Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative]."

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While Mowi's investment in sustainability of its operations is "nothing new," Martins' role will elevate, align and execute the company's sustainability vision and strategy, with a strong focus on driving progress in key environmental and social impact areas, said Martins.

"Let's consider our world’s major trends: population growth, the rise of middle class, the need for more climate-friendly food, the health benefits of consuming omega-3 rich food, the limited seafood supply coming from fisheries," she said.

"It becomes very clear that what we do as a business is creating value for the society. We are producing an incredible tasty and versatile product that has the lowest carbon footprint among farmed animals and helps our coastal communities to thrive."

Martins adds that all of Mowi's salmon is now certified with one or more certification schemes recognized by the GSSI, and in most of its farming countries, has almost half of production Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified.

"I really think we are on the right track," she said.

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