Aquabounty unleashes the Wulf. Alaskans unamused.
By Jason Smith
CEO: AquaBounty will benefit Alaska fishers, RAS producers
Sylvia Wulf, the incoming CEO of genetically engineered salmon producer AquaBounty Technologies, believes that despite the controversial reception her company has received from fishermen, its innovation could benefit the seafood industry as a whole.
Alaskan sockeye fishermen have been particularly opposed to GE salmon as has their US congressional delegation with Republican senator Lisa Murkowski leading a push for GE labeling requirements that have stymied AquaBounty’s US plans for its AquAdvantage salmon.
At a meeting of fishermen that occurred amid the 2015 announcement that the Food and Drug Administration had approved AquaBounty’s salmon for US sale, one captain quipped that “farmed salmon” should be spelled “pharmed sammon” so that “when people look at it, they say ‘that’s not right’”.
Such sentiment is common among the state’s fishermen, but Wulf said that that perception is unfortunate. AquaBounty’s development has brought a lot of attention to seafood and that’s good even for fishermen, she told Undercurrent News.
“We want consumers to want salmon and I think the positioning of wild-caught Alaskan and AquAdvantage salmon can work very, very very well together and I don’t think that they should view AquaBounty as a threat to their livelihood. I think they should view it as a way to position their product differently,” she said.
Likewise, Wulf said that AquaBounty’s salmon will be a good fit for US recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) producers.
“I think that the RAS technology and AquAdvantage technology are synergistic because RAS systems are expensive,” she said. “We believe that having production close to the consumer minimizes transit time, it’s also a protected environment so you’re not susceptible to some of the challenges that ocean-based farming is susceptible to.”