Raised on a kibbutz fish farm amongst a family of aquaculturists, Snir's life work has been dedicated to the science of raising fish sustainably. With a deep and admirable appreciation of aquaculture's societal responsibilities, Snir lead Aquafinca Honduras's efforts to implement a wide range of social programs including schooling, housing and education for company employees. He joined Australis -- the world's largest barramundi producer -- in 2011 as its US production manager.

IntraFish: How did you enter the seafood industry and why? What drew you to it as a career?

Yedod Snir: One of my first memories is being submerged shoulder high in a fish pond on our Israeli kibbutz farm, pulling on my Uncle's fisherman's jacket and screaming with unrestrainable excitement to see thousands of silver carp jumping against the sunset.

This mere thought of an oasis in the middle of the Jordan valley desert, or reservoirs in the middle of the central American forests, or tanks in a building in western Massachusetts all taming fish, still fascinates me today.

I was born third generation to a family of refugees that emigrated from Europe to Israel through the second world war. One of my great grandfathers had a carp farm in Poland and my grandfather became a fish pathologist on our farm in a kibbutz in Israel. My father was our fish farm manager; my uncle was production manager -- so one can say I was born into aquaculture.

In the late 70s, my father Israel Snir built the first fully industrialized fish processing plant, pioneering the tilapia fillets industry. Over the last 50 years, he has played a key role in creating some of the largest tilapia production facilities in the world.

Growing in his shadow, seafood is what I heard, breathed, ate since childhood. We are nine brothers and sisters and we grew on values of pioneering, creativeness, perfectionism and social responsibility.

My brother Neder Snir and I followed our father, and therefore have had the life privilege of working closely with him and also being mentored from an early age by his network of worldwide experts, colleagues and friends.

IF: What do you aim to achieve in the sector?

YS: Early in my career I recognized we were dealing with a very delicate business requiring a multidisciplinary approach. I dedicate my work to finding, developing and establishing a balanced technology that can assure continued constant supply of high quality seafood products -- affordable, for healthy consumers and sustainable communities.    

IF: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

YS: My father just celebrated his 70th birthday in February and is still dreaming and producing fish. I guess this is where I will find myself 30 years from now. I would like during those years, to create a completely vertically integrated multispecies operation of my own from feed mill to plate, that works under the technical and social principles that over the years I have come to consider ideal.

IF: In your view, what are the seafood industry's biggest future challenges?

YS: There will always be a demand for healthy food and seafood, so far, is considered to be in this category. So the first challenge is to make seafood available as a prime source of protein for the needs of the human diet displacing more poultry, beef and pork.

Achieving this goal with a wholesome product with a minimal impact on the environment and without taking advantage of the poor communities in the less developed world where most of the seafood is coming from, is a challenge.

IF: What kind of people does the industry need to face these challenges and take it forward?

YS: Currently the industry requires professionals with a wide range of relevant backgrounds and capabilities and very good work ethics, with passion about people and environment. It takes a commitment to live to a drumbeat of nature with no breaks, because your fascination with learning and improving is bigger, assimilating the meaningful responsibility of producing food for human consumption.

IF: What could current leadership in your sector learn to be better at?

YS: With more openness for integration and collaboration between managers and companies I believe many current challenges of the industry can be reduced and the risks of failures somewhat mitigated. Getting over the psychological barriers that isolate the players is something we all need to be better at. 

IF: What is the perception of the seafood industry as a career choice amongst younger people, do you think?

YS: I believe the aquaculture seafood industry is perceived by many as the promise to give our oceans a break. Many people are charmed by the prospect of fish domestication and water domestication as well.

People who like working close to nature will perceive this career as a more interesting option. Many are unaware of the real meaning of dedicating years to farming in what are until today very unchartered waters. I think our goal as an industry is to make this sector friendlier than how we received it, and to make it easier for newcomers to be successful fish farmers.

IF: What is the single best piece of career advice you have ever received?

YS: “It’s not about the fish, it’s about the people." It took me a while to come around to really be comfortable with this statement, but today I believe this to be a crucial motto. I have been educated and I try to live by these values: professional, modest, transparent, devoted, hard working, open-minded, responsible.

IF: What would you be doing professionally if you weren't in your current role?

YS: I would look for another hands-on profession that I believe has similar potential to make a positive impact on the people and the planet.

This is the 25th in our series of 40 profiles. To keep updated follow us on Twitter @IntraFish and @rachelintrafish#ifm40under40.

 

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