The Aquaculture Industry worldwide has developed over the last 40 years, even though its history can be dated back to way before that. However, Aquaculture, as we know it today, has evolved differently in different countries. For Ukraine, it was only in the late 20th Century when they saw a peak in their production and development. At the moment Ukraine is importing over 85% of the seafood they consume. Today's Talent View is on Lubomir Haidamaka, the owner and CTO of Vismar Aqua. He is a native of Ukraine and working hard to change that reality. One of his goals is to be able to reach a 50-50% import/local production within the next five years.
Lubomir Haidamaka started his career in aquaculture over 15 years ago. However, ever since he was a kid he was interested in aquatic life. This seems to be a recurring aspect in some of the stories we have shared over time. When he was 10 years old, his mother gifted him a 20-liters round aquarium, where he had guppies and water plants. "I was very passionate about underwater life, so I tried to get as much information as possible. At times it was a difficult thing to do here in Ukraine, I was so hungry for information, though". What Lubomir would do was order books and magazines from big capital cities like Kyiv or Moscow, which led him to breed and raise multiple aquarium species successfully.
During these times he learned how to create the best environment for the fish, after a lot of trial and error. Lubomir learned how to feed them with live feed and properly store and care for this feed too. And what finally led him down the inspiration of Vismar Aqua, how to maintain proper water conditions for all living creatures in his aquarium.
"I just love the smell of fish in my hands. When you pull a fish out of the water, they have a precious smell that makes me happy and comfortable".
However, Aquaculture was his passion, not his choice for a career initially. So before joining this industry, he served in the military. And after that, he started his own IT Business, which he ended up selling in 2003. His dream was to make a real Koi pond in Ukraine. But he was lacking resources – He could not find liner, pipes, drains, filters, lights. Because of this, he ended up starting a business on educating people on how to properly build the ecosystems with the proper tools.
Lubomir Haidamaka started KoiPark to sell pond-related items, as well as design and build koi ponds all over Ukraine. After some time, and some laws and regulations, he couldn't import the equipment and machines needed for these ponds. "So I came up with the idea to produce everything here. After four months and a few dozen thousand euros, I was able to build and test my first three models of drum filters. During the first year, we sold around 50 pieces. Which helped us pay for the design and everything needed to run the business. Then I saw the opportunity for a RAS business. I had every component I needed to build a good system".
After some marketing and advertising, Lubomir managed to design, build, and run small farms. Learning along with the owners about running them successfully. After a couple of years, the project developed quite well and Vismar Aqua became the number one aquaculture company in Ukraine. And because Lubomir is a man of crazy and successful ideas, he started thinking of growing Vannamei Shrimp in Ukraine. "Yes, in this cold country. Many people were laughing at me when they first heard my idea. And I spent 4 years learning, and implementing my ideas, after some trials, errors, and successes I was able to materialize it".
Vismar Aqua was born out of an idea and available resources. Lubomir had the crazy idea of growing shrimp in cold Ukraine, and even though people laughed at him, that didn't stop him. For the past two years, he has been working in the design, construction, and commissioning of the biggest indoor Vannamei farm in Europe. With an area of over 6.000 square meters, they are ready to go into the first harvest this March. However, the farm is planning to deal with everything from hatchery to processing and feed mill as well.
"What we are doing at Vismar Aqua today is: design, build, operate and transfer. We offer full service for our clients, from cradle to coffin. We take our clients by hand and show them everything in the system is important. And as long as you know what to do, Aquaculture is easy. When you have the correct system and the properly trained people, you have a successful aquaculture business".
Vismar Aqua and Lubomir's projects at the moment include the production of up to 500 Metric tons per year of African Catfish. Another project is building demonstration Rainbow Trout Farms to offer educational courses -online and offline- for over 300 new specialists in Aquaculture. The Vannamei Shrimp project is still ongoing with the development of clear water RAS in high densities.
So, Lubomir, if you could take anything from the Aquaculture industry, anywhere else, just one thing, what would you take?
"25 years ago, I worked with an American boss, he used to call me a troubleshooter. Sometimes I just manage to solve questions that people are having difficulty with. In Aquaculture, you need to know so much about so many things. You need Hydrodynamics, materials, electricity, lighting, chemistry, nutrition, water, optics, physics. So, when I am dealing with a problem I don't know a lot about, I keep working on finding the solution, reading, learning. I put it like a cycle in my head, I work on it, find the solution, shut it down, and hop on to the next cycle. I always find an alternative solution to problems, so that is something I would take with me everywhere I go".