Mark Gillard has been at the forefront of salmon farming in Marlborough for 28 years.
His contribution in helping turn around a floundering experimental project in 1985 that has gone on to become New Zealand King Salmon – which today employs over 400 people and generates over $100 million annually – was officially recognised when the Marine Farming Association presented him with their prestigious Merit Award recently.
MFA president Rob Pooley said Mark was one of the industry’s best known and well-respected identities and is generally considered one of the country’s leading salmon farming experts – and one of the architects of the industry’s success.
“The Merit Award is the highest possible accolade that you can receive from your peers. It’s not one that we give annually. It is only awarded on merit and it has a very high threshold in terms of eligibility,” said MFA president Rob Pooley.
“Mark was a very popular choice.”
Mark said he felt honoured to be recognised by his peers in an industry that he loves.
“Hell yes I’m proud of what we have achieved through all the trials and tribulations,” Mark said.
“We’ve managed to take what was a struggling pilot project with a multitude of challenges and turned it into an industry that sustainably produces premium salmon and delivers it to the world.
“It’s a major achievement – especially with a species that is considered one of the most difficult to farm.”
“Salmon farming gets in your blood. It’s almost like it’s part of you and everything that happens you feel responsible for it.”
Rob said it was this passion that made Mark such a popular choice.
“He is the longest serving member of the salmon farming industry and his selfless contribution throughout the years is unparalleled by anyone.
“Mark is among the most professional, well liked and respected contributors to the aquaculture sector.
“His integrity is exemplary.
“He has always given above and beyond the call of duty and those of us who have worked alongside him over the years have seen just how dedicated and passionate he is about this industry.”