“I really want to meet everybody who wants to know more about aquaculture” – Michelle Franze, Manager of Communications, Partnerships and Community for the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).
By Samantha McLeod
Powered by a passion for the ocean and marine life conservation, Michelle Franze is excited about her new journey to raise awareness about aquaculture in British Columbia. The Dalhousie University graduate also brings first-hand experience from working at a First Nations-owned aquaculture company that specializes in the production of Japanese Scallops, to her new task as Manager of Communications, Partnerships and Community for the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA). “I really want to meet everybody who wants to know more about aquaculture…so, give me a call, send me an email, and I am on social media,” Franze told SeaWestNews as we caught up with her for a Q&A.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
“I have a science background…I majored in Marine Biology and minored in Business, then I got my start in Coastal Shellfish in Prince Rupert, where I was an intern biologist for the company. I started in the hatchery for Japanese scallops and ended up becoming the assistant manager there. I was there for 18 months when I heard about the opportunity with BCSFA… I love it here. I applied because I really wanted to get into the business side of the industry. I’ve always had a passion for advocating for things that I am very passionate about, like sustainable aquaculture.”
Why did you choose a career in the aquaculture industry?
“For me, my reasoning is because the population is growing and by 2050 we will really need to have doubled our food production. We will not have enough food if we use up our wild stocks, so aquaculture is a really great way to have a sustainable alternative protein. When you compare it to other sources of growing protein, aquaculture has a much lower carbon footprint.”
Is aquaculture something your generation cares about?
“I think our age group is really very aware that we have to start building our own types of resources and food supplies. We are a generation that really tries to understand the world a bit better and educate ourselves in all aspects of societal needs. The world of aquaculture for me is good because I think the industry is fairly new for people of my generation and younger and I don’t think a lot of young people know about the career opportunities that the industry can provide for them. I have been showing people of my age group that there are a lot of opportunities for us in aquaculture.”
What’s work like for you now, as a voice for sustainable aquaculture in B.C.?
A big part of what I do is working with the public. I organize farm tours for the public, for industry folks; farm tours for people wanting to learn about the industry, for chefs and for the media. One thing we really love is when people visit the farm, it really opens their eyes to how things are truly done. The farms are so remote, so far away, so when people get the opportunity to visit it is really great, it is really amazing to see. And the farm people are always happy to invite and show people around. More recently I had been focussing on the B.C. Seafood Festival so I got the opportunity to work directly in the communities like Comox, and with our members like Mowi, Grieg, Cermaq, Clayoquot, and Creative Salmon. I also handle the social media side of things for the BCSFA with a marketing team and then there are media enquiries, something I will have to deal with more.”
How much do you like seafood?
“I grew up in Ontario so I did not grow up with a lot of seafood but now that I am meeting so many chefs and trying their creations, I am loving it. I love that we are supporters of the Culinary Team BC, which is a great way to showcase our products through chefs. A lot of the chefs on the team are quite young and that is great too. At the B.C. Seafood Festival, I loved the Culinary Team’s Atlantic glazed salmon dish…and then there was a shrimp gyoza with a miso sauce, mushrooms and it was all really, really, delicious…The culinary team also used the steelhead trout from one of our members and that too was really delicious. I can’t t describe all the nuances of the different fish yet, but I will learn. And in the meantime, I really love eating it all.”
“Everyone should come out to our farm tours, they should email me if they want to talk about salmon farming, see a farm, have questions, anything. I really do want to be out in the community more, I really want to meet everybody who wants to know more about the industry. So, give me a call, send me an email, and I am on social media.”
Contact Michelle at Michelle@bcsalmonfarmers.ca