Women in aquaculture: Linn Therese Skår Hosteland
Linn Therese Skår Hosteland grew up helping her family produce salmon, cod and halibut on a farm in western Norway. Despite wanting to escape the sector at 15, she has no regrets at returning in 2014 – first as a journalist, most recently as communications officer for the Norwegian coastal shipowners’ trade organisation Kystrederiene.
What are your earliest memories of growing up on a fish farm?
My dad applied for his first fish farming licence when he was 16, when my mother was pregnant with me. He started off farming salmon, then established his own company and switched to halibut for a while, before moving into cod following the spike in the price of wild-caught cod, but the cod company went bankrupt in 2011. My family always liked to try the new stuff, and it didn’t always go well. We’ve all learned a lot over the years.
My earliest memories from the farm are me and my brother walking around in life jackets on the site and swimming in the cages when the site was being fallowed. I also remember my little brother loving to eat fish feed. I never had the taste for it.
I also remember fishing on the site. My parents were working the whole time, so we had to entertain ourselves and we could catch wolfish, cod – all sorts of species that loved spending time around the farm.
What jobs did you take part in on the farm when you were growing up?
On a normal day you started working at between 7 and 8am. You got back home around 4pm, had dinner, went back out again at 5 or 6pm then got home again at 9 or 10pm – so it was a lot of work. And because it was a family company, everyone had to put in an effort: my mum worked there, my uncle worked there, my brother worked there – we did everything from handling dead fish, to feeding, cleaning the nets, grading fish, vaccinating. I didn’t slaughter fish, though – that was always done in the slaughterhouse after they’d been collected by the wellboats.
What were the worst jobs on the farm?
The worst job was mixing the acid with the dead fish, you end up with this mass that smells horribly and we used to make jokes about “making soup”. Some people almost vomited from the smell.
Why did you decide to leave fish farming behind?
When you grow up with fish, all is about fish and your parents work in fish all the time, you eventually need something else in your life, so I left to study media and communications and journalism.
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