Sigve Nordrum, EVP Animal Health and Nutrition
I have been working in Aker BioMarine since 2007, with the aquaculture market as my focus. Specializing in sales, but also working with both research and development and marketing, both my educational and work background are anchored in aquaculture.
Studying Animal Science at the Agricultural University in Norway, specializing in Fish Nutrition, I have a PhD in the digestive functions of fish. Working for seven years in BioMar’s R&D department, I then spent five years with the Norwegian Ministry of fisheries in the Science and Innovation department before joining Aker BioMarine.
How did you come to be involved in the aquaculture industry? Do you find this to be an especially rewarding industry?
I grew up spending many summers on a farm so that sparked my interest in animal science. During the studies, I found fish farming fascinating, thanks in no small part to the inspiring teachers we had at the university. I started specializing in aquaculture in the 80’s when it was still a small industry, it’s amazing to have seen it grow and still be a part of it. Your company has a very rich history in the aquaculture industry, and you clearly also hold a great deal of passion for the industry.
Aquaculture has the potential to be a major part of any solution, however, we need to develop new ideas, new technologies and we must consistently improve and refine how we work today.
How would you recommend young people get involved in this rewarding, and in some ways not very well advertised, industry?
I believe aquaculture will most likely be at the forefront of one of the biggest challenges we face today, which is to produce enough food for a growing global population. We need to increase production but using approximately the same amount of resources and land area as we currently do today. Aquaculture has the potential to be a major part of any solution, however, we need to develop new ideas, new technologies and we must consistently improve and refine how we work today. To achieve this, it is essential that as an industry we can consistently attract creative, talented, motivated and hard-working people. We’re definitely getting there and at Aker BioMarine we are very active in promoting aquaculture and finding new ways to show the business leaders, scientists and operations experts of tomorrow what an exciting, dynamic and rewarding industry this is.
What exactly makes krill so unique and innovative as a premium feed product for aquatic and pet food?
Antarctic krill is a unique ingredient. Not only does it contain high quality nutrients like protein and fat, but the composition of those fats and proteins is also distinctive. For example, a significant part of its fat molecules are in the same form as fat integrated in cell membranes. Therefore, it can be an important tool in many feed formulations. Krill also contains high levels of the fatty acid EPAs which are bound to a phospholipid molecule, which gives krill some of its well-documented anti-inflammatory effects. The protein present in krill also contains essential amino acids, the components which contribute to making feed taste good for aquaculture species. So, adding some krill into a formulation can not only make the animal eat more and grow faster, but it can also enable a feed producer to use more alternative and novel feed ingredients.
What improvements do you think we will see in the upcoming years, that will help improve the feed industry- whether they be an alternative source of feed, or a new scientific breakthrough that could give feed a host of new benefits and refinements?
Many companies in the feed industry have invested significantly in ongoing science and research into aquaculture nutrition and feed technology. Because of this commitment I think we have seen a lot of improvements; however, I think we can also expect new applied knowledge coming out of these research centres. The long-term investment in research has also put these companies in a very good position, as key players in the future of the aquaculture industry. There are also a lot of new and exciting things happening with feed ingredient suppliers, so I think we will see a lot of new opportunities for feed and nutrition innovation in the future.
How much of your research is aimed at improving the health of fish in an aquaculture environment? How is this achieved?
Aker BioMarine invests in scientific research focusing both on human and animal health. In addition, we can often bridge basic and pre-clinical scientific knowledge and knowledge from our human health programmes, with aquaculture health. For example, we focus a lot on the basic functions of omega-3 phospholipids and these functions are actually the same across many species. Omega-3 is recognized as important for maintaining a healthy heart in humans so it is important to see if we can use knowledge from our human research to improve the health of fish.
Aquaculture sometimes suffers from quite a negative public image. How does your company help to address the negative sustainability issues that aquaculture is suffering from, to help show the public that this is in fact a very sustainable, and beneficial industry?
Aker BioMarine’s mission is ‘Improving human and planetary health’. This commits us to think sustainability in everything we do. Fishing in some of the world's cleanest and most pristine waters, we work tirelessly to ensure our operations are as sustainable and low impact as possible. We are completely open and transparent with regards to our operations, working closely with national and international bodies that regulate the fishery. We work with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and with various scientific bodies, along with several environmental NGOs.
How exactly does your technology such as your latest vessel, the Antarctic Endurance, make processes easier to carry out for your crew members? Our latest vessel is the world’s first dedicated krill harvesting vessel. Meaning it is designed, constructed and equipped specifically for the job. This means it has been put together specifically with the crew and their daily tasks in mind. The new active rolling damping system from MRPC is the most obvious example. Reducing the impact conditions at sea have on the on-board processing factory and research laboratories, it enables the factory and lab teams to work safely, whatever the weather. The production plant from Optimar has also been specifically designed with the users and their work routines in mind. So along with better lighting, improved ventilation and reduced noise, the clean in process (CIP) system automatically cleans components and tanks in production area, meaning one less job for the crew.
Are there any environmental benefits associated with your unique formulation of fish feed/oil? Is it an especially sustainable solution?
Krill has many benefits. The product is MSC certified, meaning the krill fishery is operating at highest standards of environmental sustainability. The management of the fishery is closely regulated by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), established in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. With no artificial additives in the product, krill helps to keep fish healthy and interacts very well with alternative feed ingredients.
The Interview was first posted in International Aquafeed