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Salmon farmer heads for Canada
Monday 30 August 2010, 11:43AM
By Pead PR


NZ King Salmon’s top aquaculture man Stewart Hawthorn has been appointed managing director of Grieg Seafoods in British Columbia. Scottish born Hawthorn has been with Nelson-based NZ King Salmon since 1997 when he joined as general manager of aquaculture.

NZ King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne says he has mixed emotions about Mr Hawthorn’s departure.

“I’m very pleased for Stewart but we will miss the contribution he has made over 13 years,” Mr Rosewarne says.

Mr Rosewarne says Mr Hawthorn has overseen some major advances in New Zealand fish farming during his time at NZ King Salmon.

“Stewart has brought some amazing insights to fish farming in New Zealand – across not only technical innovations but also with both a practical and environmentally responsible attitude to how we do business.

“He has been a popular figure throughout the company and around Picton opening up our farms to visitors and impressing everyone with his huge knowledge of salmon farming and animal husbandry.”

Major advances at NZ King Salmon under Mr Hawthorn’s stewardship include developing the ability to provide big fish year round, the completion of the company’s new Clay Point farm and a highly-successful seal protection programme.

“The story goes that when Stewart first arrived he suggested it would be great if we could double the size of our young freshwater fish by the time they were ready for the sea farms,” Mr Rosewarne says.

“There were sceptics, but now the freshwater team can deliver fish more than three times the size they were able to then. That means we can deliver big fish year round and that’s what customers want, especially in export markets.”

Mr Hawthorn also oversaw the commissioning of the company’s new state-of-the-art Clay Point farm in 2008 and ongoing refurbishment of freshwater and sea farm facilities as well as shore-based offices. “Stewart firmly believes – and of course we concur – that state of the art facilities attract quality staff and that’s good for the business,” Mr Rosewarne says.

Under Mr Hawthorn, the company’s seal management programme has markedly improved its ability to keep seals out while ensuring they come to no harm from top-to-seabed seal nets.

“Stewart has also worked very hard to build a positive reputation for our business by communicating openly with all stakeholders, attending meetings, demonstrating what we do and also changing what we do to accommodate the community’s needs.

“He has been very successful at this. So much so that I believe we are recognised both as a valuable member of the community and as a company that does what it says it will do,” Mr Rosewarne says.

Stewart Hawthorn originally came to New Zealand from Canada after applying online for the aquaculture general manager role at NZ King Salmon.

“In fact, that was pretty rare back then and when I joined King Salmon there was only one email account in the company. What a difference a decade makes – it was the first job the company had ever advertised online.”

Mr Hawthorn says he has learned much about salmon farming while working in New Zealand.

“King Salmon has taught me that you need good people, working well together to deliver good results. It has taught me that leading people is a real challenge, but also highly rewarding.

“And I have learned that we need to offer our customers more than just a piece of fish! It is about the whole product, from the way we farm it, to how we process it and finally about the products we distribute and sell.

“But all of this is nothing if there is no integrity behind what you offer and that starts with the team.”

Mr Hawthorn says he regrets leaving New Zealand but is ready for the next challenge. He says there are opportunities at Grieg to grow the value of what the company sells rather than to grow more, something the team has successfully done at King Salmon.

“I will certainly miss the people I work with and the culture here at the company and of course sunny Marlborough,” Mr Hawthorn says.

Stewart Hawthorn left NZ King Salmon in late August and will be based at Grieg Seafoods’ Vancouver Island location.

Stewart Hawthorn

B.Sc. in Marine Biology (Herriot Watt University) and M.Sc. in Aquaculture, with distinction (Stirling University).

Work history:

Marine Harvest, Scotland, 1988/92 - Management trainee, assistant manager, site manager

Voluntary Service, 1992/94, overseas volunteer, Papua New Guinea - provincial fisheries officer,

Jail Island Salmon, New Brunswick, Canada, 1995/1997 - production manager,

NZ King Salmon, general manager – aquaculture, 1997 – present.

About New Zealand King Salmon

New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) is New Zealand’s biggest integrated aquaculture producer employing more than 420 skilled workers. Currently the company produces 7,500 metric tonnes of King salmon annually from five sea farms in the Marlborough Sounds of New Zealand’s South Island. With 55 per cent of the global market, the company is the world’s biggest farmer and supplier of the King salmon variety earning around NZ$50 million a year in foreign exchange. It accounts for 70 per cent of New Zealand’s salmon production. NZKS has several market advantages including a great taste and a sustainable, disease free, chemical free, clean growing environment, pure King salmon (Chinook) brood stock, fresh-to-market distribution, vertical integration and supply chain product traceability. King salmon has the highest natural content of healthy Omega-3 oils important for life and good health and which can help to maintain a healthy heart. It is available nationwide from supermarkets (NZ only), fish suppliers and good delicatessens. For recipes and serving suggestions visit For more information about NZ King Salmon visit