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Spotlight: Daniel Carcajona, Aquaculture Innovation Officer

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I am from Madrid, Spain, and for the ones not familiar with Spanish geography, Madrid is the farthest away place from the sea you can be in Spain. Still, I have always been attracted and amazed by the sea, so I decided to leave home when I was still 17 to study Marine Sciences, to a university 700 km away, and never returned. I am now 37 and living in Oban after moving little by little northwards, first France, then Belgium and now Scotland.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I started studying a degree in Marine Sciences, I was lucky as I always had clear that I wanted to work on “something” related to the sea. After these wonderful years at the University of Vigo, it became clear that that “something” was aquaculture.

I then decided to join a Master in Aquaculture at the University of Coruna to complete my studies. This was a 2-year Master that showed me how to grow various fish, shellfish, seaweed, microalgae and crustaceans species.

Once I completed the Master, I worked in seaweed projects and farming. Once these projects were finished, I found myself in a challenging situation. The 2008 crisis had wiped out most of the job opportunities and I struggled to find an aquaculture job. What to do? While working on completely unrelated aquaculture jobs I applied for a grant and for a new Master and got both accepted.

Back to the uni! This time it was a Marine Environment and Resources Erasmus Mundus Master, with a focus on the marine environment rather than aquaculture. This master took me from Coruna to Bilbao in the Basque Country, then Bordeaux in France, then Liege in Belgium and finally Scotland. And again, my Master These was about aquaculture, and again, about seaweed cultivation, inland, this time.

I got a job in Scotland, but working with fish, decide to say bye (or rather, see you later) to seaweeds. I then discovered cleaner fish and salmon farming, and both have become my passion since then, especially cleaner fish. I worked in various companies since I have arrived in Scotland in 2014, all about applied research and marine production, and so far, I love it!

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

I would rather choose two subjects, Biology and, surprisingly, History. I love to understand the processes around me, where we come from and where we go to. But also I had two brilliant teachers, passionate about teaching and for sharing their knowledge, they knew how to make the lessons attractive to keep us awake and focussed.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

A strong scientific basis is essential, an analytical mind, especially in biological sciences as well as experience in aquaculture, all well wrapped with strong organisational and communication skills, which are key to effectively managing all the projects and to do not miss any opportunity for our sector.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I love the face-to-face interactions, visiting facilities and projects. That is the real quality time, the time that helps build relationships and trust.

What is a normal day in your role like?

Day-to-day work can be varied, the role supports the SAIC business with a mixture of home working, desk-bound (dealing with emails, networking, managing our projects and supporting our consortium members.) and days away on workshop/meeting activity together with visits to research institutions, companies’ facilities and projects.

And what does your job title mean?

My job is all about enabling collaboration between the aquaculture industry and aquaculture research to make the sector grow in a sustainable way. I liaise with academics, public funding bodies and the aquaculture industry to engage all parties in collaborative research projects, meaning lots of meetings with a wide range of people and companies to help our sector grow.

My main responsibilities include,

  • Consortia engagement and relationship management - building a strong aquaculture network to establish fruitful relationships. Building trust and being integral is essential.

  • Project management and control – being agile on our live project management to ensure all processes and governance are robust.

  • Driving innovation – by developing new projects, demonstrating flexibility and innovation.


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