Women in Seafood: Hilary Nyberg

Hilary Nyberg is the Southeast Regional Sales Manager at Orca Bay Seafoods since early 2015.  Prior to working at Orca Bay, Hilary worked as a production manager at Aleutia INC, a Native Aleut salmon cooperative in Sand Point, Alaska. Hilary received her Bachelor of Science in Socialogy from Northern Arizona University in 2010. She lives in Tacoma, WA and enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors.

Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business in the first place?

Hilary Nyberg: Growing up a fisherman’s daughter in Alaska, seafood has always run through my veins.  My Dad has been a fisherman for 40 years, my grandmother worked in salmon canneries and my grandfather was a fisherman as well.  Salmon was the main protein on my dinner table growing up and being a part of the business first hand as a child, it was very natural for me to be attracted to the industry as an adult.

SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?

HN: Seafood is the healthiest protein that we can consume and it is important that we have sustainable aquaculture practices and well managed fisheries to provide food to consumers all over the world.   The health benefits that seafood can provide to consumers are unparalleled to other proteins.  In order to make sure that we are getting this healthy protein on people’s plates, it is our responsibility to implement proper sustainability practices in the fisheries we source our products from.

SD: What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?

HN: Currently, I am participating in The National Fisheries Institute Future Leaders program.  As future leaders of the industry, our group is addressing some of the major issues we face with providing sustainable seafood to the world population.  At Orca Bay Seafoods we work with fisheries improvement projects that we either directly support or purchase from; WWF Ecuador and WWF Peru Mahi Mahi, Hsin Kang Taiwanese Mahi Mahi, Indonesia Yellowfin Tuna, Vietnam Yellowfin Tuna, Indonesian Swordfish and Russian Far East Crab.

SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?

HN: I would say the biggest challenge that I face has been learning the ins and outs of aquaculture.  Being from Alaska, all I ever knew was the fishing way of life and I have only recently been learning about other practices to feed the world with seafood.  Learning about the importance of aquaculture has been really eye opening for me!

SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?

HN: I think the thing that I have realized the most is that if you have a passion for the industry, you will go far.  Educating people about the importance of seafood in their diets is my job as an ambassador of seafood and I intend to continue educating people throughout my career.  This is a very niche industry and I feel so fortunate to be so involved and a part of it all.

SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?

HN: I would say if you have the passion for seafood, this is one of the most rewarding careers that one can have.  I know women working in the industry ranging from fishermen to senior executives of seafood corporations and the thing that we all have in common is an undeniable passion for seafood.