AQT Spotlight on Pekka Marttinen – RAS in Finland
The Aquaculture industry has reached almost every corner of our planet. It has touched almost every profession and trade. To be honest I had never met anyone from Finland. So, I am really happy these AQT Spotlights gave me the opportunity to meet Pekka Marttinen and share his story with all of you. Pekka is 39-years-old. He earned a Bachelor in Aquaculture and Environmental Care from Turku Polytechnic. He has been involved in the industry for 19 years now as well as RAS in Finland and the world. I want to share his story with you today!
Making decisions is never an easy task. And for Pekka, the one decision he made as he graduated from high school determined basically the rest of his life. He told me how when he was 18-19 years old he had a passion for both music and fishing. “On my holidays from school, you could find me fishing somewhere in Finland. But in my early teenage years, I started to play the guitar. So these were both my hobbies and passions. But I thought that making a living off of music would be much more difficult than making it from fishing. After I served my military service I attended a short trade school for fishery, it was basic and practical. We farmed fish, we had a processing plan, fingerlings, nets. I really enjoyed taking care of the fish”.
This is why when he learned about the European Union starting a Project in Imatra City that combined paper mills and RAS he decided he would be a part of it. He joined them as an intern at this, the first RAS facility in Finland. Which was still so new and he found it so interesting. The capability RAS has of taking care of fish, water, business, and staff, that complexity is what interested him the most.
About Becoming a Consultant
For 15 years, Pekka had the opportunity to work his way up the ladder. He worked in different RAS farms as Farmer, Plant Manager, Managing Director, etc. And had the experience to work with different freshwater fish species. But after one of his biggest challenges in the industry which I will address later, he decided to set up his own consulting firm. Using all the practical experience learned during those years. Utilizing his mistakes and gathering information, to help others have successful farms. He does this Through RAS Consulting.
“What I am doing is trying to tell people not to make the same mistakes I did. RAS is not simple as its marketed. RAS is more than pumps and automated stations. So, what I am doing now is running feasibility studies and designing farms. As well as training their personnel for troubleshooting and understanding different issues. I do this by running different analyses and designing production plans for them. I teach them about being realistic, if not, the project will 90% go down”.
Mistakes are Teachers
Pekka believes RAS farming is an industry in which you are not allowed to make compromises. “Especially when you are talking about water. The make-up water needs to be as purified as possible. And regardless of where your water is originating from, remove all the solids and toxics you need to remove”.
“Everything is so complex in this business. There is not just one solution to a problem, there are many solutions. Everything is like a puzzle”. When he was a Managing Director he faced issues with the processing of the makeup water. And the owners of the company were not investing the necessary money to rebuild the system and fix them. He had to take care of the fish and the farm without the proper tools and caring methods. This caused high mortality among the fish. All of these problems did not give a happy ending to the farm.
About what people should expect when joining the industry as investors. Pekka says They should never underestimate the practical issues that the industry has. And always work hand in hand with farm employees, and all those doing the hands-on work. They should always perform feasibility studies and preliminary analyses to make sure that what they need to invest, is what they are willing to invest. “Be 100% realistic and skeptical.
To others joining the industry “I would tell them to always be prepared for challenges and not expect an easy thing”.
“Las yeas I made a renovation in my old Fishery School. They had small hatchery and fingerling units which needed to be renovated. I designed and implemented all the renovation process and it was really satisfying. Seeing the fish grow healthy and be happy is definitely one of my passions. And then getting feedback and critical feedback from clients is extremely rewarding”.
In his home, he has a 10 cubic meter pond where he raises Sturgeon, Perch, and Crucian Carps(The one in the featured image!). Fish that are kept all year round. But for Pekka, his drive is in RAS. He wants to be a part of a big RAS project from an early stage. And until the end where he can see happy fish are being produced.
Remember how I told you he had a passion for music in his teenage years? Well, he is Finnish so he spends his free time playing melodic Rock for a band called Sulferdust. Their debut album will be launching this year and I for sure will be finding my way to listen to it!