The following letter was sent to IntraFish by Rob Johnson, managing director of Sea Pact, in response to the column " Why are these people representing the aquaculture industry," written by Executive Editor John Fiorillo.

“Why are these people representing the aquaculture industry?” I have some solid answers to that question.

While perhaps meant to be provocative, the suggestion of the piece was that only aquaculture insiders are qualified to speak out positively about the industry. That narrow perspective, however, would limit the reach of the conversation to primarily seafood industry trade shows, further stalling the education, understanding and expansion of responsible aquaculture that we need right now.

SXSW is an influential event. It commands a huge audience, can convey positive messaging about aquaculture, and helps shape the public’s views on the sector.

Our industry should be thinking more about championing important influencers with star-power voices. This is why Sea Pact got involved in organizing this distinguished panel. We are working to find new ways to build awareness and excitement around aquaculture and bring it to a broader audience.

The reality is that aquaculture wouldn’t be the topic of a featured session at the event at all if it wasn’t for this specifically selected panel and moderator.

The SXSW panel’s widely interesting and important focus is on aquaculture’s contribution to sustainable food systems and its vital role in combating climate change, not about public-gripping industry specific topics like feed and production technologies. Global name recognition outside of our industry is the key asset here.

These aren’t just any influencers. This panel can be described as a group that has first-hand knowledge and experience with land-based fish farms, growing organic seaweed, and advocating for ocean solutions, all moderated by a strong culinary ambassador for responsible aquaculture.

I don’t see a lot of millennials lining up to see and hear unknown industry representatives predictably speak positively about their own industry.