New Zealand King Salmon CEO: “We believe that aquaculture is literally going to save the world”

The New Zealand salmon industry could become its “most valuable” as well as its “greenest” says its chief executive.

Grant Rosewarne, New Zealand King Salmon CEO, talked to SalmonBusiness about his country and company’s aim to be a major player in the market.

“For New Zealand, salmon is a premium opportunity and, as a country, if we are going to maintain our standards of living we need to focus on premium branded opportunities and New Zealand King Salmon certainly is that,” he said.

“With new technology coming, for the first time we have the prospect of being able to maximise the value we can create for all of our stakeholders, being our customers, the communities in which we operate (including the natural environment), our team members and our partners/suppliers. This is an exciting prospect.”

As New Zealand’s market leader, his company produces 8,000 tonnes of King salmon a year ie 50 percent of the world’s King salmon supply. Earlier in the year Rosewarne said that the he was looking at the Norway model for ‘what could be’ in salmon aquaculture. Furthermore the driving force behind this was a firm eye on future food sustainability.

For New Zealand, salmon is a premium opportunity. PIC New Zealand King Salmon

“(…) we believe that aquaculture is literally going to save the world! We have a growing population with limited ability to produce additional food from land and wild fisheries, however, aquaculture can feed millions of people with an extraordinarily low environmental impact,” he said.

A decade in the making
Despite experienced extremely warm water temperatures this summer, the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries projected salmon aquaculture export revenues at $98 million. What’s in store for the industry in 10 years?

“Salmon farming’s success is New Zealand’s success. Just 80 surface hectares of salmon farming space – roughly the size of a small land farm in New Zealand and around three times the size of today’s salmon industry in New Zealand – would be enough to completely eliminate our country’s annual $2.8 billion trade deficit,” he said.

Rosewarne believes that NZ salmon farming could exceed its billion dollar wine industry by 2050. PHOTO NZ King Salmon

“We have a vision for aquaculture, particularly salmon farming, that sees it becoming a major part of the agricultural sector. In fact, we believe that, over time, aquaculture could become New Zealand’s most valuable industry and its greenest primary industry.”

Everyone on board?
At present, NZ King Salmon raises its fish inside the cool deep water bays in the Marlborough Sound, on the South Island, but as opportunities for more growth appear – the open waters of the Cook Strait could be on the cards – what do New Zealanders think?

“We have immense support locally in the top of New Zealand’s South Island where we operate, and we think as New Zealanders increasingly focus on green opportunities for economic growth, they will get even more excited about salmon farming’s potential. The new government is very focused on this and we’re working closely with them on our plan to relocate our farms which will help set us on that path to offshore farming.”