Raising the Bar on Sustainability in Aquaculture

Badinotti Net Services Canada
Written by Jen Hocken

Badinotti Net Services Canada is the Canadian division of the Badinotti Group, an international manufacturer of innovative netting products with over a century of experience in the fishing industry. Founded in Italy in 1910, the company has since grown to serve customers on three continents.

As businesses around the world struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Badinotti finds itself positioned for growth. Over the last two years, the company was forced to redirect its effort toward building and implementing new processes and technologies to accommodate the challenges of pandemic life. As a result, Badinotti Canada has come out of it ready to grow and is already looking to expand its East Coast presence.

In these challenging couple of years, the company has learned to be adaptable and has developed a plan to be proactive going forward. “Adaptability is the biggest key strategy here as far as the amount of challenges we’ve faced during COVID and being able to pivot quickly and find ways around them,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Marc Halverson.

Although still headquartered in Campbell River, British Columbia, the company’s expansion to the East Coast is now underway, and it expects to establish a physical presence to grow there.

At well over one hundred employees, Badinotti has continued to expand its skilled team and there are no plans to slow down. “We’re looking at expanding not only our services, but our product lines and our overall strategies, and it is only going to become realized and possible with a bigger team,” says Halverson.

A common trend in organizations is to have employees wear many hats, which can be beneficial because it allows people to fill in for others or provide quality assistance as needed. However, the Badinotti leaders find that it can also prevent people from further developing their primary strengths. The solution to this problem is simply to have more people on staff and allow them to do what they are best at, rather than attempting to spread their talent too thinly across multiple specialties. This is part of the company culture at Badinotti, and it has resulted in more efficiency and better performance overall.

Many other factors help make Badinotti a great place to work for eager, young professionals. Halverson has had the experience of working with several manufacturers, ranging from multi-billion dollar companies to smaller privately-owned businesses. This well-rounded knowledge made it very clear to him that Badinotti was the right fit for him.

“From the moment I started with Badinotti, it’s been very apparent. It’s a great working environment; the people are listeners, and everybody’s open-minded. We’re not afraid to give our own two cents to an issue or a subject, but we also take in everyone else’s perspectives, helping us to get the best possible action or decision.”

When people are in a position to complete work they are passionate about, it keeps their morale and motivation high. It is a successful strategy because happy employees tend to stick around.

As the company has dealt with a particularly taxing last couple of years, Badinotti became even more firm in its commitment to be a considerate and supportive employer. “We’re very accommodating, completely understanding of people’s personal needs and how that translates into their work efforts and their performance,” explains Halverson. “Open lines of communication are important. I have always said to my team that there’s literally no subject that you can’t bring up to me.” The leaders have successfully created a positive and enjoyable workplace environment through transparency with their people.

Working at Badinotti is particularly exciting due to the innovative nature of its work in aquaculture. The company is looking forward to new and upcoming projects currently under development, and it is hoping to have a more formal announcement on these later this year.

There are two major challenges in the aquaculture industry: finding sustainable options to help cut costs in net washing services and sea lice mitigation. Dealing with sea lice is a new area for Badinotti, and the team is discovering innovative technology and strategies to help alleviate the problem. The issue is particularly troublesome on the East Coast, where these small but intrusive crustaceans are responsible for killing off millions of dollars of fish for Badinotti’s customers.

As far as net washing, Badinotti is looking at alternatives to reduce the costs of its services and finding new products to help increase the efficiency and longevity of its nets. The company is also focused on improving the reputation of the industry through more sustainable efforts.

“What the industry needs and what we’re trying to spearhead is an effort in being more sustainable in our materials and transparent with the public too. Among some groups there can be a negative connotation to fish farming and aquaculture in general. It may be perceived by these people as irresponsible action or environmental damage,” says Halverson. “So we’re trying to get in front of that and promote our industry as new and sustainable through the use of current efforts such as bio-based recycled fibres, systems that are easier to track and relocate if something happens on a site, eliminating debris, and also clear end-of-life strategies for equipment,” says Halverson.

The end-of-life strategy refers to how the materials and nets are handled when they need to be taken out of service and disposed of. Once the product’s usefulness has been reached, Badinotti offers to take back the material so that the customer does not have the burden of disposal. To improve sustainability in the industry, Badinotti then finds ways to recycle that material, rather than sending it to a landfill, which is the worst-case scenario for such a large product.

“Whatever we’re putting in the water, we want to make sure it comes out and doesn’t leave any sort of negative impact when it is in there. That means eliminating chemicals and degradation of any sort, so bio-based recyclable fibres are important, and then also being able to have a strategy to take the burden of that product off the hands of our clients when it’s done,” says Halverson.

Committing to the ongoing effort to improve the aquaculture industry’s environmental impact is an everyday endeavour at Badinotti. People are more impassioned than previous generations and are more willing to participate in helping to improve environmental behaviours than ever before.

“I think that if you have stereotypes or false perspectives on what it is that we do, it’s up to us to correct that misinformation, and the only way to do that is to be more transparent in what we are doing. So we’re meeting literally daily, on some level, regarding our sustainability efforts, and being more environmentally friendly,” explains Halverson.

Another reason that aquaculture is an exciting industry to be a part of, is that fish farming is one of the only scalable protein sources. The negative environmental impacts of red meat have been well documented, and one protein source that can be scaled up in production to feed people all over the world is fish. We are on a planet where water makes up almost three-quarters of its surface. There are more suitable locations to find protein in the ocean that will cause much less of an environmental impact, and Badinotti strives to increase awareness about fish as a more viable option as our population on planet Earth grows.

The team is excited to find innovative solutions to the new challenges in the industry such as sea lice. Already standing behind its significant industry improvements, the company will continue to move aquaculture and fish farming into the future as a quality, sustainable protein source. Halverson expects to see an uptick in demand for seafood and a larger presence of fish farming, especially as more of the environmental initiatives continue to show progress.

“We are changing the perception and being more open with what our effort is. We’re doing things that we believe are the best way to not only provide a source of food for the world, but we’re also doing it in the most environmentally responsible manner,” concludes Halverson. “One of our biggest focuses is getting some of these new developments and exciting new technologies out in the open, and we are convinced it will change what people think.”



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