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DNV talks to E24 about its ambitious aquaculture goals

DNV recently spoke to Norwegian publication E24 about its acquisition of Åkerblå Group in 2023, its plans for future growth, and the importance of the aquaculture industry in meeting the planet’s growing demand for protein.

Article originally published in E24 here.

DNV has ambitious aquaculture goals: it aims to grow by two employees a week over the next two years

Through one of its biggest acquisitions since its inception in 1864, DNV is building a global power centre to ensure competence, development, and service delivery in the aquaculture sector.

The short version

  • DNV aims to become a global aquaculture competence centre through one of its biggest acquisitions since its inception in 1864.
  • The company will grow by two employees a week in this area over the next two years.
  • DNV has recently acquired Åkerblå, a leading fish-health and environmental-impact company. The goal is to build a sound international entity that supports a fast-growing industry.
  • DNV and Åkerblå will together ensure all-round risk management relating to fish health, biodiversity, and technological development.
  • DNV is now Norway’s largest employer of aquatic veterinarians.

Jørgen Andreas Åm Vatn is a veterinarian who works on strategic international growth in DNV. For the past few years, he has been the project manager for the company’s new, ambitious aquaculture strategy.

He played a key role in last year’s acquisition of Åkerblå, and is now looking forward to continue working towards the company’s major goal: to become a world-leading aquaculture competence centre that assists the fast-growing fish-farming industry.

“DNV is already a leading global player in the fields of technical services and certification in the aquaculture sector. Åkerblå, on its part, is established as the foremost player in two areas that are critical for future success in Norway’s aquaculture industry, namely fish health and environmental impact,” says Åm Vatn.

Jørgen Vatn, Roger Sørensen, Thomas Vogth-Eriksen
Jørgen Vatn, Roger Sørensen, and Thomas Vogth-Eriksen

Recently, Åkerblå has started to expand its services internationally. Jørgen is convinced this collaboration will benefit the industry as a whole.

“Together, we will ensure all-round risk management in the fields of fish health, biodiversity, and technological development. A higher level of digitalization, innovation, and cooperation across the board will be crucial to our success in the blue economy,” he says.

The intention behind the acquisition of Åkerblå is to build a sound international entity that supports a fast-growing industry.

“We’re certain we can help develop good standards for an industry that will be enormously important in the years to come,” he says.

World-class expertise

The acquisition of Åkerblå has led to DNV becoming Norway’s biggest employer of aquatic veterinarians.

Roger Sørensen, CEO of the Åkerblå Group, believes the expertise that already exists in Åkerblå and DNV and that they will build on in the future will benefit the entire industry.

“Åkerblå and DNV are world leaders in the fields of risk and sustainability management in the aquaculture and offshore renewable energy sectors. Our combined expertise will enable us to offer customers the entire range of services needed to meet the steadily increasing demands of consumers, authorities, and investors,” he says.

“Ultimately, I think this collaboration will be fantastic news for the entire industry.”

He believes many people still underestimate how important the fish-farming industry will be in the years to come.

“The world is calling out for food, and we are becoming more and more dependent on proteins from the sea. Wild fish and normal catches will not be enough to meet the increase in demand we envisage up to 2050. I’m incredibly proud that we can develop future-oriented solutions for the industry which lead to the sustainable production of good, healthy food,” he says.

Must ‘recruit’ two a week – for at least two years!

Thomas Vogth-Eriksen, the head of aquaculture in DNV, is very happy about the opportunities afforded by this exciting strategy – for both current and future DNV employees.

“Following the acquisition of Åkerblå, there are already at least 500 people in DNV working with the seafood industry. We have marine biologists, marine technology engineers, engineers with master’s degrees in technology/science, digital-transformation and strategic-development experts, and, not least, a number of competent veterinarians, like Jørgen,” he says.

However, the company will need even more skilled people in the future.

“We think we’ll have to ‘recruit’ an average of two people every single week for the next two or three years. This will take place organically through hiring and through several strategic acquisitions,” says Vogth-Eriksen.

Striking a blow for the industry

Individual incidents in some enterprises have recently led to dents in the fish-farming industry’s overall reputation.  Åm Vatn looks forward to DNV and Åkerblå helping the industry to improve its production processes so that authorities, consumers, and investors can have more confidence in it.

“We must differentiate between the industry and the various players. Some players achieve very low mortality rates and extremely good fish health. We must support this. In areas where the industry faces challenges, we must pave the way for improvements and positive developments. We look forward to starting on this journey,” he says.

Five key areas to ensure success

Voght-Eriksen has been tasked with operationalizing the ambitious strategy the company has developed. The strategy points out five areas where the company must succeed:

“One is sustainability and ESG certification, where we must help the industry to document that its players have everything in order. The second focus area in the strategy is biodiversity and co-existence in the sea – that the ocean environment is safeguarded and managed in a way that contributes to healthy, rich biodiversity,” he says.

“The third area is helping the industry with the digital transformation it must undergo, with a focus on cyber security and the verification of new digital systems.

“The fourth area we must help the industry with is infrastructure services. This is what most people think of when they think about DNV. We verify that facilities, both onshore and offshore, are built in accordance with prevailing standards,” says Vogth-Eriksen.

The fifth and last area in the strategy is probably also the most important:

“This area is fish health – one that is crucial for us becoming a turnkey supplier of aquaculture services. Åkerblå has been best in class here for a long time and we’re incredibly proud that we’ll now be playing on the same team,” he says.

Find out more about DNV’s aquaculture services here.

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Mona Ghobadi

Mona Ghobadi

Head of External Relations