Supported by MSD Animal Health (known as Merck Animal Health in the USA and Canada) since its inception in 2005, the FEAP makes an annual award to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to excellence in European aquaculture. In 2011, Bjørn Myrseth was recognized for his drive and career-long influence on fish farming in Europe.
The award was presented during the FEAP Presidents’ Meeting, held in Rhodes on 17-18 October 2011, and was decided by a jury composed of the previous recipients of the Award, following nomination by a FEAP Member Association.
Presented jointly by the FEAP President, Arnault Chaperon and Robin Wardle, Director of Technical Services and Customer Support for MSD Aquatic Animal Health, Bjørn Myrseth was given a silver miniature of the award in recognition of his long-standing contributions to European aquaculture.
Bjørn Myrseth has had an exceptional career, being active on many fronts since he graduated with a Master’s Degree from the University of Bergen in 1971. Almost immediately, he became a founder of Stolt Sea Farm, which was specialized in the production of salmon smolts first in Norway, then in Scotland, USA and Canada.
In the USA and Canada, Stolt Sea Farm also produced market size Atlantic salmon and Bjørn Myrseth was the key driver of the company’s involvement in sturgeon farming in California.
As a leader in smolt and salmon production, he then looked to diversify his interests and, through his company Lax AS – which later became Marine Farms AS, started investments in Greece, UK and Chile. Marine Farms was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in 2006.
From 1987 to 2010, Bjørn was the CEO of Marine Farms AS, an international aquaculture company typified by its innovative approach to technical and biological solutions. Until it was taken over by Marpol in 2010, Marine Farms had operations in the UK (salmon), Belize (cobia), Vietnam (cobia) and in Spain (seabass and seabream).
During the presentation of the award, John Stephanis – past President of the FEAP and CEO of the Selonda Group – remarked on the long term relationship that Bjørn has had with Greece. During the 1980s, he tried to place Marine Farms in a strong position in Greece given his recognition of the potential for the aquaculture of seabass and seabream. A sequence of relationships with prominent Greek companies followed and he started Galaxidi Marine farms, which was sold in 1995 to Greek interests. He continued to develop the position of Marine Farms at the international level, notably in the purchase of Culmarex in Spain.
He has been a long-time supporter of cooperation and openness in developing aquaculture and, already in 1976, was a co-founder of the European Mariculture Society – the precursor of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS). While active in founding regional and national aquaculture associations in Norway, he was elected President of EAS in 1992.
It is this combination of personal interest in discovering developments and applying innovation in marine aquaculture that have driven his professional career and has meant that his expertise, experience and insight are regularly sought by many. Due to Bjørn’s long tenure and active involvement in the development of aquaculture, be it through professional or research actions, he is considered to be one of the pioneers of the modern fish farming industry.
As was pointed out, one is likely to bump into Bjørn anywhere in the world, always with the notebook that does not leave his side and always interested in new opportunities, insight and know-how.
In receiving his award, Bjørn said that he was slightly surprised to receive an award for just doing his job, noting that he was not yet finished! Nonetheless, the evident recognition of his efforts and warmth of the applause were clear indications of the widespread appreciation of his contributions.