Emma Blom, AgriHQ cadet.
The world is your oyster when it comes to opportunities in aquaculture.
So says Ben Pierce, who was recently recognised for his achievements and contribution to the New Zealand seafood industry when he was named a finalist in the future leader category of the NZ Seafood Sustainability Awards.
Sarah Bynevelt of Sanford took out the title with Troy Bramley and Clare Edwards of Tora Collective and Pierce runners-up.
When Pierce was studying at Lincoln University for a Bachelor of Commerce he needed a summer job and ended up at Sanford.
In 2020 he completed his degree and continued to work in the industry as a deckhand on a mussel harvesting vessel and slowly worked his way up the ranks after getting a taste of the opportunities open to him.
Completing further studies in Sustainable Aquaculture, Pierce became a freelance kina fisherman and is currently the marketing assistant and project developer at Mills Bay mussels.
He sees many more opportunities in the sector, not just for himself but for other driven, passionate people.
Pierce has gained an enviable position in the NZ seafood sector and now works alongside the Food & Fibre Youth Network, representing the seafood industry on the council.
Food & Fibre Network acts as a pan-sector voice for young people across seafood, horticulture, forestry and arable farming. The council’s aim is to act as a communication channel to relay youths’ perspectives on industry topics to decision-making bodies.
This involves networking with young professionals in each primary industry sector and understanding their perspectives. Pierce, alongside Josh Wyber and Maegen Blom, created Young Fish Aotearoa NZ after seeing a youth connection missing in the industry.
Young Fish Aotearoa NZ is a networking organisation for young professionals in the seafood industry targeting people from all over NZ under the age of 35.
“It’s open to anyone, you don’t have to be working in the industry, just generally interested,” Pierce said.
Currently, young professionals from all along the supply chain are involved, including fishermen, scientists, sales representatives, processors and individuals from coastal communities.
The goal is to build up strong cultures in coastal and aquaculture towns while building future leaders, recruiting and retaining people, and identifying and developing leadership talent in the industry.
Events take place throughout New Zealand including Twizel, Christchurch, Blenheim, Havelock, Nelson and Auckland, allowing like-minded individuals to connect, develop and learn from each other.
The aquaculture and seafood sector has growth opportunities in all areas from production to marketing and sales.
The government’s aquaculture growth strategy sees achievable potential to grow the industry from its current $600 million status to a $3 billion industry by 2035.
Pierce believes that the industry is young and has room for growth and innovation, stating that “there are lots of species that we are not farming yet that we can”.