John Holder: Pioneering Aquaculture Innovator

In the world of aquaculture, where the delicate balance of science, technology, and nature must coalesce seamlessly, John Holder stands as a prolific pioneer with a career spanning over five decades. His journey, which commenced on a tranquil trout farm in Ontario, Canada, has grown into a remarkable legacy of innovation, perseverance, and unparalleled contributions to the industry.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970s, John embarked on an academic journey at the University of Guelph, immersing himself in the study of Marine Biology and Fisheries and Wildlife. This education laid the foundation for a lifetime of inquiry and innovation in the aquaculture domain. Remarkably, many of his peers from that era continue to shape the aquaculture industry today.

John’s work has taken him on adventures across the world.

Another turning point came in 1986 when John found himself in Vancouver during Expo 86, which coincided with an aquaculture conference. This fortuitous overlap led him to British Columbia, where he joined a forward-thinking company dedicated to advancing recirculation technologies.

In the mid-1990s, John’s journey took him to International Aqua Foods, where he was entrusted with a broad slate that included working extensively with Tilapia and refining his expertise in recirculation technology, both on the east and west coasts.

John’s career has intersected with many knowledgeable professionals in the industry. Here he is with Dr. Paul Harrison at Mainstream Aqua.

With a wealth of experience under his belt, John founded JLH, his consulting firm, in 1999. Here, he became a “Mr. Fix-It” for the aquaculture industry, tackling complex technological issues and solving design and technology problems on systems around the world. It was during this period that he began collaborating with a draftsman to digitally design aquaculture systems, a foray into new technology that would later become pivotal.

Rasway FLF – is Local Coho in New York state.

In a serendipitous twist, John’s son, John JR, joined his business, bringing his expertise in Auto-CAD as well as his experience in fish farming to complement their dynamic duo of aquaculture consulting. Together, they embarked on a mission to refine and innovate the industry and continue to do so to this day. 

Remarkably, of the 160+ operations John has consulted for on six continents, only one has closed its doors—a testament to his expertise and problem-solving prowess. In the early 2000s, they began producing their own designs, delving into mixed cell raceways while consulting in China. Here, he crossed paths with Rob and Richard, his now partners who were equally dedicated to pushing the boundaries of aquaculture technology.

Rasway FLF – is Local Coho in New York state.

John’s early career centered around raceways until the “RASWAY” design was born in his mind—an ingenious concept that has since become patented and fine tuned to be the cutting-edge system that Gold River Aquafarms will be using. He shared this groundbreaking idea with Richard, envisioning its implementation in a COHO salmon farm in China.

John JR took the reins, handling the modeling, and the duo took a leap of faith with Richard’s project. The result? Success. This initial trial in China marked the birth of a soon to be revolutionary technology.

Years later, Rob and Richard reunited to form Gold River Aquafarms, propelled by John’s RASWAY technology that had evolved substantially since its inception. The advantages of this innovation are numerous—lower energy consumption, straightforward construction, a harmonious environment for fish, and user-friendly designs that simplify fish management.

John Holder’s career reads like a saga of determination, adaptation, and a relentless pursuit of continued innovation in his now 50+ years working in aquaculture. From the tranquil trout farm to pioneering revolutionary technology, his career has helped shape the global aquaculture landscape – leaving an indelible mark on an ever-evolving industry. His experience on our founding team is invaluable, and will allow us to continue to break new ground in the field of sustainable land-based aquaculture systems.