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 location from the sea you can be in Spain.


Still, or because of this possibly, 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 was always 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 this “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 take care of and grow various fish, shellfish, seaweed, microalgae and crustacean 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 jobs I applied for a grant and for a new Master position, and both applications were accepted.


Back to the uni! This time it was an Erasmus Mundus Master’s in Marine Environment and Resources, 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. Again, my Master thesis was about aquaculture, and again, about seaweed cultivation – inland, this time.


I got a job in Scotland, but working with fish, deciding to say goodbye (or rather, see you later) to seaweeds


What was your favourite subject in school and why?


I would rather choose two subjects, Biology and, surprisingly, History. I loved to learn about and understand the historical, political and human developments around us. I also had two brilliant teachers, passionate about teaching and about sharing their knowledge; they knew how to make the lessons attractive to keep us awake and focussed.


What subjects/qualifications/skills are useful for your role?


I would rather choose two subjects, Biology and, surprisingly, History. I loved to learn about and understand the historical, political and human developments around us. I also had two brilliant teachers, passionate about teaching and about sharing their knowledge; they knew how to make the lessons attractive to keep us awake and focussed.

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 organisation 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 sector and research institutions: connecting businesses and academia, we fund and support commercially relevant, collaborative research to transform aquaculture by unlocking sustainable growth through innovation that aims to deliver solutions to key sector challenges. Our ultimate goal is to help increase the economic impact and reduce the environmental footprint of aquaculture.


My main responsibilities include, Consortia engagement and relationship management – building a strong aquaculture network to establish fruitful relationships. Building trust and having integrity 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 fresh thinking.