Launching June 8, the 16th edition of the North Atlantic Seafood Conference (NASF) is expected to be the biggest yet, with anyone who's anyone in the top tier of the seafood industry due to attend or speak at the event.
This year's conference will go digital for the first time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event has been held annually since 2005.
Although originally schedule for March, the conference will take place over three days from June 8. The program will be released this week.
During the three days, 160 lectures will be given, divided into to four parallel sessions.
"The advantage of a digital conference is that the participants can now attend all the lectures, or as many as they want, and there will be recordings available afterwards," Andre Akse, general manager of NASF, told IntraFish.
Last year, NASF was held as usual in Bergen, just before Norway and the world shut down due to the pandemic.
Over the years, the number of participants has been on average around 900.
"This year we expect to reach 2,500," said Akse. "So far we have almost 1,000 in place, but there are five weeks left, and from experience it is known that registration for digital events takes place during the last couple of weeks."
Meeting place for strategy and market
None of the conferences have an overarching theme, other than that NASF should be the global industry's meeting place for strategy and market.
The conference is aimed at managers and key people in seafood companies.
NASF has just over 30 sponsors this year. In breaks between the sessions, and before and after the lectures, the sponsors can arrange business meetings with the delegates, where a company can, for example, present its sales department to existing and potential customers.
"The purpose is to compensate for the mingling when you walk around with a cup of coffee and greet people," said Akse.
45 top managers
Among the 160 speakers are 45 top managers in the largest Norwegian, European seafood companies, for example the multi-entrepreneur Helge Gaso who will share thoughts and experiences from the Norwegian salmon industry.
Conference participants come from all over the world, such as China, the United States and Canada. From Chile, for example, comes AquaChile CEO Sady Delgado, one of the world's largest salmon producers.
Another industry leader due to speak at the event is Lee Myung-Woo of Dongwon Industries, South Korea's largest seafood company.
Dongwon has invested in the Norwegian land-based company Salmon Evolution, and is also planning to build a land-based salmon farm in Korea itself.
Another of the sessions will address companies' efforts to achieve a better gender balance.
Speeches will be made by, among others, CEO Therese Log Bergjord from feed company Skretting; Bernardette Giard from the food service giant Sodexo and Ian Smith from the Canadian seafood company Clearwater.
Other speakers at NASF 2021 will be Mari Pangestu, managing director of development policy and partnerships, at the World Bank.
On behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Samuel Thevasagayam will also talk about the foundation's views on aquaculture.
Three new sessions
This year NASF is introducing three new sessions: an aquaculture feed summit; a coldwater shrimp seminar; and a sea lice session.
The Aquaculture Feed Summit will see leading industry experts give insights into areas such as nutrients, feed sustainability, new ingredients and research.
Together with the International Cold Water Prawn Forum (ICWPF), this year NASF will be hosting a new coldwater shrimp seminar to give both production and market insights.
Additionally, NASF will be pairing with the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF) to give insights into the latest research into the struggle to overcome the sea lice challenges.
NASF is also revamping its Women in Seafood session for the event, teaming up with the International Organization for Women in the Seafood Industry.