GSI’s Lazar: “They’ll forgive us if we fix this”

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The Global Salmon Initiative, a group of high-end salmon-producers, see lucrative possibility — and pitfalls — in the years to come

“The future’s so great, I gotta wear shades,” said Avrim Lazar, as he fished a pair of shades out of his blazer pocket.

The Canadian GSI director was so cocksure of the industry’s bright future, that he kept his glasses on during his speech at the Norwegian Seafood Council’s yearly conference on Wednesday.

Gap
“There’s a gap between future demand and the food industry’s ability to deliver. For the aquaculture industry, this is an enormous possibility,” he said.

“But it can be stopped by pollution, greed, reputation and sustainability,” he asserted, adding, “We have to deserve our future. It’s a wonderful opportunity. But to seize it, we’re dependent on three things: innovation, confidence and learning how to cooperate.”

Forgive
“People will forgive us for escapees, sea lice and disease, but only if we fix it,” he said, explaining that fixing things fast was crucial to the industry’s reputational capital, or the public confidence that lets the industry produce.

The Seafood Council, an agency under the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, has its eye on coming protein demand through to 2030 and Norway’s ability to meet it.

“We’re part of the answer,” Lazar said before spotlighting some the paradoxes the industry has to live with.

“We’re being evaluated for what we do. But, we’re seen as being a part of the problem. We’re evaluated as the new threat. A hindrance. We in GSI would rather that (aquaculture) is the most effective way to produce protein. But, we’re a young industry, so we have to adhere to a higher standard.”

Cake
“To succeed here, you need transparency. We have to tell our story with integrity.

Lazar advises at the same time that the market’s players not fight it out with each other and other protein or food producers.

“It’s always easier to have more cake if you increase the cake’s size, rather than by fighting for your piece of cake. You’ll increase earnings via cooperation and increased market size instead of fighting each other,” he said.

“To secure yourselves a good future, you have to make it. Create it. You have to deserve it. And you have to work together,” Lazar concluded.