Salmon Farmers Association Chair 1994 -2013
Aquaculture New Zealand Deputy Chair: 2009-2013, Director 2007-2009
You’ll never farm salmon in Marlborough,’ the naysayers told Mark Gillard. That’s part of the reason why he has dedicated his career to the sector.
“I think I’m keen on aquaculture in general, not just salmon farming – although it’s been my home for 28 years,” he said.
“When I started it was all new, nobody had done it before and after early failures some believed it couldn’t be done.
“It’s always been a challenge. It’s an industry that is continually evolving at a rapid rate.
“It’s an industry that has huge potential both economically and environmentally. When it’s done right, it’s an industry the country can be proud of.
“I certainly wouldn’t be involved if I didn’t believe in it.”
Mark first came to work in the Marlborough Sounds in 1985, and has been an instrumental figure in developing the technology and systems that saw a floundering experimental project grow to become the world’s largest producer of Chinook salmon, New Zealand King Salmon. While earning a reputation as one of the country’s leading salmon farming experts, Mark has also been influential in helping grow the industry through leadership roles with the Salmon Farming Association and Aquaculture New Zealand.
“It’s pretty humbling to have been nominated and voted for by my peers throughout those years,” he said.
“I’ve always worked with the best outcome of the industry in mind.
“Success to me, is the success of the whole and I think we achieved a hell of a lot.
“It’s certainly a different environment to the day-to-day working of an aquaculture company.
“But you need to have representatives there, getting involved in the process and advocating for policy and initiatives that work for the industry. If you’re not making the decisions about what’s best for your industry, then others will do it for you.”
His leadership style has been characterised by balanced, considered views, unquestioned integrity and a calm, professional demeanour. Traits that have seen him become one of the industry’s most liked and respected participants.
“Hell yes I’m proud of what we’ve done,” he said.
“We’ve managed to take the industry from what was a struggling pilot project with a multitude of challenges and turn it into an industry that sustainably produces premium salmon and delivers it to the world.”
And who said you couldn’t farm salmon in Marlborough?