‘For me getting into aquaculture was a no-brainer. My degree allows me to critically evaluate the sustainability of our operations’

BC’s Blue Revolution with Kenny Leslie

‘For me getting into aquaculture was a no-brainer. My degree allows me to critically evaluate the sustainability of our operations’

By Samantha Bacchus McLeod

The newly unveiled Youth Council of the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) is all about greening forward for sustainable aquaculture to feed Canada and the world. This strong group of young individuals, who are already making waves in aquaculture, will act as advisors for concepts brought forth by salmon farmers and as seafood ambassadors for BC. Over the next few months, SeaWestNews in a special series of Q and A presentations, will explore how members of BCSFA’s Youth Council play a role in British Columbia’s Blue Revolution.

This segment on BC’s Blue Revolution features Kenny Leslie, Fry/First Feed Supervisor, Mowi Canada West, and Co-founder and chair of the BCSFA Youth Council.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

“I am originally from Scotland, but recently became a dual citizen in Canada. My wife and I, and our two children live in Campbell River, Vancouver Island. Living in Campbell River affords us the ability to get outside and play, we love to ski, and we have done some kayaking. As a family we enjoy just being outside really!”

What is your academic background?

“I have a degree in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Dundee in Scotland, a year of which was spent at UNBC, Prince George, which is where I met my wife-to-be.”

How does a degree in Environmental Sustainability apply to a job in the aquaculture industry?

“As you know, I work for Mowi Canada West as a Fry/First Feed Supervisor, and it is my job to oversee the raising and introduction of feed to the Fry as they leave incubation. For me getting into aquaculture was a no-brainer. My degree allows me to critically evaluate the sustainability of our operations. It is a great source of employment for the North island and incredibly fulfilling…as with any agricultural job.”

From your perspective, what would you say are the most crucial issues facing salmon farming in BC?

“If I have said it once I have said it a million times. Getting through the screeds of misinformation will be vital. But I think there needs to be a more concerted effort to be engaging with First Nations about our industry and trying to pave a more unified path forward for everyone. I believe in having discussions that are meaningful and presenting the most rounded and complete picture of what’s going on and how we conduct ourselves.”

How do you see the future of fish, both farmed and wild, in BC?

“Simply put, farmed and wild can co-exist. We need to realize that the hunter/gatherer instincts to catch fish on large scale needs to be cut back. Aquaculture can provide that stop gap which will allow the wild salmon to hopefully rebound. Our native species face numerous challenges from fishing to climate change, it’s how we handle things now that will make the difference. I do not for one second believe my job is a detriment to the wild stocks…if I did, I wouldn’t be doing this. Studying environmental sustainability and working in aquaculture goes hand in hand for me.”

If you had to choose, what would be your favourite body of water?

“My favourite body of water, this is hard because a part of me wants to say Pacific because I moved to the Pacific, but I think I have to go with the Atlantic because it links my homes, Scotland and Canada.

Your favourite seafood dish and why you love it?

“Growing up in Scotland a good Fish and Chips is always a strong contender, but I also had wild and farmed Atlantic salmon readily available there too. But I think now, a good Pacific Seafood Chowder really hits the spot. A little taste of the pacific seafood varieties all in one bowl – delightful.”

As of today, November 9th, Kenny Leslie has started a his new position as Freshwater Production Manager Grieg Seafood B.C., Gold River. Grieg operates a fresh-water hatchery in the community of Gold River (population 1,300), which is the gateway to beautiful Nootka Sound.

We will be doing a follow up feature on what’s new with Kenny in his new role with Grieg Seafood B.C.

Read about another Youth Council member, Michelle Franze.