In the evolving world of aquaculture, Robert Walker, MBA, stands as a seasoned leader with over 30 years of dedicated experience. As the Co-Founder, Director, and President of Gold River Aquafarms (GRA), Rob’s journey began in the late ’70s, where he transitioned from an interest in mining to a career in logistics and management when he moved from Ontario to British Columbia. His early career in aquaculture began in 1993 at a processing plant with Intercan Resources in Campbell River, where he gained an incredibly diverse array of experience in logistics, handling procurement, purchasing, sales, and marketing. This jack of all trades exposure to the business allowed him to advance quickly into a management role at the plant.
Rob’s career in aquaculture continued to advance in 1999 when the company, now named AgriMarine Industries, embraced land-based farming through the BC Government’s Green Technologies Initiative. This venture exposed him to the challenges and possibilities of closed-containment systems. Learning from early trials, AgriMarine became a pioneer in exploring closed-containment and the interplay between tank size, power, energy efficiency, and growing capacity.
In 2009, Rob and his team developed the Middle Bay project, installing Future SEA—a sustainable aquaculture containment system. Collaborating with partners in China, they then tested a new solid wall floating containment system design. This technology was installed at Middle Bay in 2011. Despite challenges like damaging storms, their innovative improvements to tank and filtration design led to significant successes, demonstrating that excellent growth, waste capture and avoidance of threats such as sea lice and marine mammals was possible. Not confined to containment systems alone, Rob’s team developed ancillary innovations, like the Agri-Marine pump – enhancing efficiency in moving large volumes of water – and water quality monitoring systems.
In 2018, Rob, along with partners Richard Buchanan and John Holder, co-founded Gold River Aquafarms. Building on years of experience, Gold River’s groundbreaking land-based model represents the shared culmination of their experience streamlining energy and operational efficiency. Rob emphasizes the unique advantage of GRA’s accessible raceways – designed by John Holder – offering clear visibility into fish behavior and health due to their cutting-edge design.
Reflecting on the last 30 years, Rob marvels at the advancements in aquaculture, particularly in filtration and pumping efficiency. The focus on waste management remains a unique opportunity, with ongoing research to convert nutrient-rich organic waste into valuable soil amendments. The remarkable progress in their Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) means that these systems are capable of synthesizing the natural environment and contributing to GRA’s success.
In the ever-evolving aquaculture landscape, Rob Walker’s experience is a dynamic example of the relentless pursuit of sustainable innovations Gold River aspires to develop as they continue their important role in supplying our global food systems.