Women in Canadian Manufacturing

Who’s Who 2024: Dr. Diane Morrison, managing director, Mowi Canada West


July 4, 2024
By ncaleb
Presented by:
Food in Canada
Women in Manufacturing

Thirty years ago, Dr. Diane Morrison, veterinarian and managing director at Mowi Canada West, was attracted to aquaculture as a career because it was all brand new. “When I started, everyone I met was so passionate about the fish, enthusiastic about the industry and exciting to work with. We were all learning as we went,” she recalls.

Along with the people and the constant learning, Morrison fell in love with the continuous innovation in salmon farming to advance efficiencies, sustainability, fish welfare, and product development.

“It continues to be really interesting,” she says. “I stayed in the sector for the people, and because it’s so exciting to be part of the production of such healthy and high-quality products.”

Morrison graduated from veterinary school in 1992, one of four in her class of 100 interested in aquaculture. Fish farms back then were small and veterinary services were provided through feed companies like the one that hired her. She was exposed to a lot of different operations, which was a fantastic learning opportunity for her.

The learning continued after she was hired at Mowi in 2000. Morrison was involved in everything from broodstock to egg care through all salmon growth phases to the end product.

“I was very lucky,” she explains. “Now, the roles are very specialized. I first had a focus on fish health and food safety, and about 10 years later, became a senior manager [in the company].”

Collaborations

In 2018, the current managing director was leaving, and Morrison put her name forward. She obviously had a huge amount of experience and good working relationships with members of several First Nations, which are important in Canada’s aquaculture sector. Morrison felt confident she could help strengthen Mowi’s First Nations relationships and together implement solutions that would benefit everyone. For example, working with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation (Klemtu), Mowi switched from primary salmon processing in the community to smoking salmon.

“The product is called Klemtu Spirit and the community members were involved in everything from the logo and product development,” Morrison shares. “It’s being sold across Canada and it’s a huge source of pride for the community, for me and our entire team. It’s a tremendous success and a shining example of the opportunities this sector can provide.”

Indeed, Morrison believes the opportunities for farmed salmon are still untapped in Canada.

“We have so much coastline, and we offer such exciting careers,” she says. “Salmon farming offers high-tech positions, working with big data, automation and so much more. Overall, Mowi offers 80 career pathways with excellent growth potential.”

Morrison believes farmed fish is critical to meet the protein needs of humanity.

“We can’t put all the pressure on wild salmon populations,” she says. “We are making progress in public understanding that farmed fish is a positive industry. It’s a safe, highly regulated food product. At Mowi, fish welfare, and environmental, social, and economic sustainability has come so far. We are very proud to be leaders in First Nations reconciliation. We will continue to innovate and improve on all fronts.”

This article was originally published in the April/May 2024 issue of Food in Canada.