Salmar’s Witzoe: “Criticism helps make us”

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SalMar founder Gustav Witzoe welcomes criticism but admits it’s sometimes taxing

“We should be humble about criticism, because it helps develop us. What I think is challenging to understand, is that the criticism is so unconnected and not well-enough documented in many areas. But, we have a responsibility to run our industry with the least possible effect on nature. We have that foremost in our minds whenever we go to work. It’s a constant development — There are a lot of things, we know now, that we shouldn’t have done when we started up. But, that’s just the way it is, sadly.”

That’s a passage from Witzoe’s openhearted interview with newspaper Adressa in connection with a local Person of the Year ceremony. He was also addressing the criticism that came out in a series of articles dubbed, Dark Undercurrents, where newspaper Morgenbladet and online newspaper Harvest enquire about the independence of research on the industry.

“It’s challenging that much of the funding in the research institutes comes from the industry. But I, and the people I talk to in the industry, see that researchers do their research on their own terms. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t work. There might be areas the industry would like studied, that are more important than other areas, but that’s how it is. But, the research has to be independent and fact-based. That’s how it has to be.”

Of note, Witzoe’s Person of the Year Award was awarded in part for building Trondelag County’s “most important export sector of the future”. He’s built the company into the world’s No. 4 salmon-farmer with 1,600 staff worldwide who in 2016 produced 116,000 tonnes of salmon that exported to 40 countries.

This year, SalMar could produce 134,000 t by year’s end.

Witzoe’s investment company, Kverva, has “contributed” 87.6 million Norwegian kroner to the local county from which he derives.