January 3, 2014 – 4:26pm BRUCE ERSKINE BUSINESS REPORTER
THE CHRONICLE HERALD
Mike Magnus says his latest business venture will revolutionize the global seafood industry.
“It’s the new paradigm when it comes to seafood,” he said in an interview Friday from his Bedford office.
Magnus, former executive vice-president of sales and marketing with Clearwater Fine Foods and former president and CEO with Shear Wind Inc., is a partner as well as president and CEO ofOpen Blue Global Services (Canada) Inc.
Open Blue Global is a partnership with California’s Cuna del Mar, a major investor in Open Blue, the world’s largest offshore fish farm.
Ocean Blue raises cobia, also known as black kingfish and black salmon, in submerged cages 11 kilometres off the Atlantic coast of Panama. Magnus said Open Blue Global was established to market the fish internationally.
“We’re dealing with all the sales and marketing around the world for Open Blue,” he said.
Magnus said aquaculture will account for 60 per cent of seafood production by 2030, up from 40 per cent today, as global demand grows.
“Aquaculture really is the future.”
Magnus said traditional near-shore shallow water aquaculture, which has encountered vocal criticism in Nova Scotia, poses environmental challenges.
“It’s a challenge raising production in (12 to 15 metres) of water.”
Magnus said offshore deep-water aquaculture as practised by Ocean Blue, which submerges its cages to depths of 70 metres in a 1,000-hectare control area subject to steady ocean currents, is more eco-friendly and produces a healthier, tastier fish.
“There’s no buildup of impurities.”
Magnus said open ocean aquaculture has challenges of its own, including the costs associated with working in an open sea environment.
He said Open Blue has created a workable harvesting model that protects the environment but it needs to be done to increase public awareness about the benefits of raising fish offshore.
“Awareness is extremely low,” he said, adding that he sees the situation as an opportunity.
Magnus said cobia, raw and cooked, has outperformed other whitefish species in focus group comparisons.
“I’ve eaten a lot of seafood,” he said.
“It’s one of the best around.”
He said Open Blue, which has been raising cobia “seriously” for the past two years, plans to raise 20 million tonnes of the fish in the next four to five years.
Open Blue cobia was featured in Sobeys stores before Christmas. Magnus said he plans to launch the fish in Europe, Japan and China this year.