TheFishSite interviewed David Mack owner of Ascomber who successfully ran the Aquaculture UK event over the past ten years. David had worked in the fish processing industry since 1975 and in 2006 he cannily spotted an opportunity to offer a UK aquaculture event. Aquaculture UK was launched and in the past ten years it has grown to be an important and truly international trade event for the aquaculture industry.
David, having successfully built Aquaculture UK into the UK's most important aquaculture exhibition was it a difficult decision to sell the business?
Yes and no. Yes, in that I enjoyed running it enormously and got a great buzz from dealing with people I had worked with since the early days, and all the newcomers too, and occasionally I still miss that.
And no because my wife had been hinting for years that I should retire properly and spend more time at home and doing other things. I am enjoying that, for example studying a three year German course at the Open University and doing lots more cycling.
In your opinion what makes the exhibition unique?
The answer is the location and size of the venue and the ease of access to, and informality of, it compared to other shows. Unusually for a major trade fair, it is held in a small town, not a major city but that is what partly makes it special because Aviemore is centrally placed for all of Scotland's aqua people.
As one exhibitor said to me at Trondheim in August, "In Glasgow we all got lost!” As all the hotels, conference rooms and the exhibition hall in Aviemore are within 200-300 metres of each other and there are no long treks to parking it is very easy to carry on networking long after the official opening times. The bar of the Highland Hotel buzzes till early in the morning as delegates and exhibitors catch up on industry matters and gossip. Although cynics have remarked that it's the industries' school reunion, attendees really feel that it's an unmissable event.
Having worked with the industry for over 10 years you must be passionate about aquaculture and the future of the industry?
Indeed I am. I still subscribe to many journals and avidly read any mention of the industry in the press.
It is in the blood you can't stop being involved after 40 years in fishing and aquaculture. Aquaculture (ignoring one offs like the disease problems in Chile a few years back) has had an unvaryingly upward growth trend globally which has often been at variance with the mainstream economic trend in the countries of activity.
In Scotland we had several years of rapid growth even during the recession and this is reflected by the growth in the show.
The current UK recovery can only help maintain that growth I believe. I hope to see the day when Scottish salmon reaches the 200,000 tonnes production level
For more information on Aquaculture UK, please click here.