Grieg Seafood chairman Per Grieg, Jr. said he believes Norway's aquaculture industry needs to work harder to win over the general public.
While pointing out Norwegian salmon companies create great sources of revenue for the country along the coastline, paradoxically, there is a general negative feeling toward the farmers themselves.
"Everyone loves salmon, but few like producers. Is it because we are ugly?" he joked. "We have to make the public love both the salmon and producers."
The company is aiming to produce 100,000 metric tons of salmon annually, including its operations in British Columbia.
Grieg said that when running an international company it's important to have something that ties the workers together. "We care about each other and the environment around us," Grieg said.
"We have thus redefined ourselves so that everything we do is based on sustainability. Sustainability and the social contract, that we act on behalf of others, are important. It's something we just have to understand."
Grieg said the company must also understand its place in society as an industrial food producer. "Very many among the general public do not understand what it means," he said. "We must be open and visible. And ask ourselves the question: why are we misunderstood as producers?"
Grieg noted that the fact aquaculture companies use public resources means they have to be even more cautious.
"Every time we do something it can affect many ecosystems, neighbors and the like, and we have to understand that," he said.
Grieg added that along with biodiversity and the industry's carbon footprint, mortalities are a very important topic -- a complex and difficult discussion -- one in which the aquaculture industry can improve.
"We as producers must also use more resources. We must understand how we affect biodiversity," he said.
"We are going to have to be wild salmon's best friend as producers, and I think it is very important to have a good relationship with both wild salmon and river owners."
Neighbors have an influence on each other, Grieg said, but cooperation is extremely profitable and the bottom line is not all that matters.
"We must also take into account other stakeholders than we have traditionally done. It's hard to tell if we're on the right track," he said.
"The bottom line doesn't show everything. There are many other factors that determine this for us at Grieg Seafood, where we have worked with sustainability and risk."
Grieg pointed out that the company has revised its reporting practices, with sustainability weighted as equally as financial factors.
Salmon lice, fish health, antibiotic use and CO2 emissions are now a key indicator of success -- along with profitability.