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United States/Ecuador

Massachusetts—Mark Leslie 1958–2017


On Saturday, November 18, 2017, Mark Leslie, a former shrimp buyer and manager in the seafood industry, died at age 59.  Leslie began working in the seafood industry in 1982 as a shrimp hatchery biologist in Ecuador.  He then moved into buying and farming shrimp and eventually rose to serve in executive roles for several seafood companies.  For the past 26 years, he was vice president of business development at High Liner Foods.  He was diagnosed with Stage-4 pancreatic cancer in October 2016.


“Mark Leslie was devoted to his family, his faith and the seafood community.  Whether in business development for High Liner or in the early days of shrimp production in Ecuador he was a consummate professional known throughout the industry for his optimism and integrity,” former National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly said.  “In the boardroom, on the golf course and in his many charitable works, he will be missed.”


Mark is survived by his wife, Maria Elena Leslie of Danvers, Massachusetts, and four daughters.  His funeral service will be held at the Peterson-O’Donnell Funeral Home at 167 Maple Street, Danvers, Massachusetts, on Saturday, 25 November.


Shrimp News: Many of us old guys worked with Mark during the 1980s when he was keeping us up to date with what was then: the early days of shrimp farming in Ecuador.  Here’s an example of one of his reports to Shrimp News when he was managing a shrimp hatchery in Ecuador:


My previous report...underestimated the number of hatcheries that will be in production by 1986.  I now estimate two in Esmeraldas, three in Manta and ten hatcheries on Hatchery Row, beginning with Semacua in the south at Anconcito and ending with the government’s ESPOL hatchery 40 kilometers to the north in San Pedro.  AQUALAB, at Ayangue, is producing 200 million PLs/Year, after a late 1985 start-up.  There are also 4-5 hatcheries going up in the Gulf of Guayaquil.  So that’s around 20 hatcheries—with rumors of five or ten more in the pipeline.  Source: Letter to Shrimp News International from Mark D. Leslie (Hatchery Manager, AQUALAB S.A., P.O. Box 5738, Guayaquil, Ecuador), dated February 15, 1985.



The Shrimp List Remembers Mark Leslie


Juan Aguirre (jxaquirre58@yahoo.com): I just wanted to let the members of The Shrimp Listknow that Mark Leslie passed away this morning, November 18, 2017.  He worked in Ecuador in the 1980s during the hatchery boom, where he was the general manager at one of the top hatcheries.  After a few years he married an Ecuadorian woman and then went back to the USA to work for one of the big seafood importers.  Many of The Listers knew him, including Danny Fegan, the Shrimp List owner.


Michael Mogollon (jmmogollon@aol.com): During the mid 1980s, Mark turned very insightful hatchery work done in rustic “backyard” conditions in Ayangue, Ecuador, into hard hatchery science and built the “pyramid” of hatcheries that became Aqualab.  He and his Filipino and Ecuadorian team lead the way for many of us at that time.


David Currie (davidcurrie@lineone.net): Mark was one of the young guys who came out to join us at the Semacua hatchery in 1983, where he made a great contribution with his enthusiasm and friendly nature.  Then he went on to do great things with Aqualab.  My sincere condolences to his wife and children.  Goodbye, friend.


Patrick Sorgeloos (patrick.sorgeloos@ugent.be): How sad to hear about Mark Leslie passing away.  We had such a great time in the late 1980s working together in Ecuador, especially at the “Cathedral”, the new Aqualab hatchery in Ayangue.


Dan Fegan (danfegan@yahoo.co.uk): Like many others I am devastated at Mark’s untimely passing although he told me that his prognosis was not good some time ago.  Mark was one of the pioneers in shrimp hatchery production in Ecuador and was an integral part of the Ballenita Gang in the mid-1980s.  Many of us have great memories of the Hatchery Row Club set up by Mark as a place for all of us “biologos” to hang out, exchange ideas and generally chill (amongst other things).  There are more than a few great tales in the alternative history of shrimp farming that involved Mark and/or the club.


He was also one of the first to have the foresight to move over to the other side of the fence and work in shrimp buying/importing.  Although we didn’t see much of each other in recent years, we always kept in touch, and it was as if we had never lost contact.  I salute his bravery and dignity in dealing with what he knew were his last months.  It didn’t stop him from enjoying life and friends to the full.


Patrick Wood (patrickjwood@yahoo.com): Had the pleasure of working with Mark and sharing a house with him back in 1983.  We also shared the same birthday.  He was good at what he did.  Inventive and decisive.  No rulebooks back then.


When I had my mini-hatchery in Punta Blanca, Ecuador, I remember visiting his pilot maturation facility (while Aqualab was being built) and how he was getting superior spawns with an oil slick around his water intake.  Made him wonder.  He was always curious, astute and thinking outside the box.


As Dan mentioned we had fun at the Hatchery Row Club—and it was a great place for sharing experiences and meeting people from many countries.  Yes, the Filipino team that would liven up the parties with their kareoke...and Mark did some crooning as well.  He was thoughtful, kind and with a good heart.


Mark moved upstream in the industry and to the USA.  As a processing plant manager at ENACA, he taught me how to size blend shrimp for the USA market.  I visited his Treasure Isle secondary processing facility in Florida in the early 1990s, and he showed me what was being done with value-added products...things that that eventually became standard practice in the shrimp processing industry.


Daniel Porras (doncamaron@gmail.com): Very sad to read the notice of Mark’s passing.  Back in the 1980s, we worked for different hatcheries in Ayangue, Ecuador, but we had the same goal: to increase shrimp hatchery production in Ecuador.


After being away from Ecuador for 17 years, I’m back now and can see how far the hatcheries have come—thanks to pioneers like Mark.  Thank you Mark!


Attilio Castano (attilio.castano@gmail.com): He was my first business partner when I started, and I couldn’t have had a better one.  He was an honest and reliable person.  Even when he was sick, he had an open and sincere smile of his face.


Rest in peace my friend....


Sources: 1. SeafoodSource.com.  Executive Editor, Cliff White (cwhite@divcom.com).  Mark Leslie, Longtime High Liner Executive, Passes Away.  Cliff White.  November 22, 2017.  2. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Mark Leslie.  November 19–20, 2017.  3. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, November 23, 2017.


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