If the salmon industry wants to grow production, solve problems relating to fish health, reduce mortalities, and ultimately make more money, then it needs to get better at sharing data and collaborating, according to Leroy Seafood’s CEO Henning Beltestad.

“The situation today is that we are unable to achieve any growth in the production of salmon and trout … and it's a bit sad that we can't make it,” said Beltestad during a panel discussion about data sharing last week.

“When it comes to data, this is something that is very relevant to fish health. We have great potential for improvement there," Beltestad said. "I don't think the way to solve it is for every single company to do it. It would be much better to get a larger aggregate data set that we can work with together.”

Panelist The Thanh Nguyen from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute agrees that data sharing is critical. “We can enrich the understanding of the problem and make the right decisions to anticipate, prevent and fight disease outbreaks,” he said.

According to a new report from the NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster, a lot of data gets passed from subcontractors further up the system -- but the usage or findings from that data is rarely shared.

Fredrik Witte, managing director of Cargill Aqua Nutrition North Sea, agrees that information flow is not broad enough across the sector.

“It becomes very silo oriented. The main point of opening up is to get more data and information to flow across the entire chain," Witte said. "The more data you have available, the more dynamic the feed process becomes.”

Beltestad pointed out that for a long time it has been common for many people to be on their own about best practices for salmon farming.

“Historically in the aquaculture industry, it has been the case that someone in another area should not come and tell me how to do it in my area because we know how we do it here," he said. “It has been a long journey since then.”

The report showed how data sharing can give more confidence in the industry. Beltestad said the market has confidence in the salmon itself, which is borne out by the demand.

“Trust in how we operate in Norway is very high -- I can see that after traveling around many places and selling fish,” he said.

“But the interaction with the authorities, the common understanding and the relationship of trust, that is sometimes not good enough. We have to work on that.”

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