People are at the heart of Aker BioMarine, which is why attracting, fostering, and building talent are key to the company’s success.
Self-confessed marine science fanatic Tibiábin Benítez-Santana is exactly the type of person you want designing your research and development projects. With an infectious can-do attitude, obsessive eye for detail, backed up by a wealth of hands-on lab experience, Tibi is actively driving our fish nutrition work ever forward, into new areas, and new applications. Abalone fed on krill meal anyone?
What new areas of study will your team QRILL Aqua be investigating next year?
Next year we will definitely have new studies on olive flounder, shrimp, sea bass and we will continue our work on salmon. But we also have some other potential areas of study I am looking into now. I really want to look into abalone, today these species hold a position as one of the most expensive of any seafood items worldwide, and especially in Asia and South Africa. They are actually supposed to be herbivorous, but a study showed that if you add fish meal to their diet they grow faster. So, that could be interesting for testing krill meal.
More salmonids studies, tilapia and lumpfish. The lumpfish has been suggested as a cold-water cleaner fish for removal of sea lice from Atlantic salmon. Sea lice are very problematic for the aquaculture industry. Not only do they have costly and undesirable impacts on salmon health and welfare, but in extreme cases causing mortality. To meet the global industry’s needs, lumpfish production needs to increase to reach ca. 50 million fish annually and this can only come from aquaculture. The areas in most need of research include better control of maturation for year-round production and establishing nutritional requirement. I believe krill meal could play an important role here and the improvement of the lumpfish’s welfare.
Which of our Aker BioMarine heartbeats do you identify with most, and why?
My favorite heartbeat is "We cheer each other on". Watching someone else give it their all to fulfill, or indeed exceed, their goals is both energizing and inspiring. There are times when we get disgruntled or disenchanted, because we have been trying and working for what seems like a long time. But, when someone else reaches their target, it should fill us with hope and the belief that anything is possible. My team, Science and Regulatory Affairs, is a great example of this heartbeat. We believe that we can all share and benefit from outstanding individual achievements. The more we support and celebrate individual successes, as a team, and take a positive attitude, the more determined we all become. This helps us shake off the doubts and helps fill us with determination.
What has been the biggest challenge in your role at Aker BioMarine?
Having spent many years working in a lab analyzing fish and feed samples and checking all the data by myself, it is still a culture shock that I am no longer so hands-on, day in and day out. I am very picky about how things should be done, that’s why it feels kind of weird to receive reports with the final results, without participating in the process and verifying all the steps. We work with the best lab teams and scientists out there, but I am still getting used to not wearing a lab coat to work every day.
In just one sentence, explain what you think makes Aker BioMarine as a company so unique?
I am throwing out a high five to our people’s motivation! The Aker BioMarine gang is always up for a challenge and recognize that diverse perspectives actually strengthen performance, not weaken it.
If you were naming our next vessel what would you call it, and why?
The scientific name of salmon is Salmo salar. The name, Salmo salar, derives from the Latin salmo, meaning salmon, and salar, meaning leaper, according to M. Barton, but more likely meaning “resident of salt water”. We have so much knowledge about the positive effects of krill meal on salmon health, so I consider this such a great opportunity to use it as a homage to this amazing creature. Taking in consideration where the krill is harvested, the Southern Ocean, I would name the new vessel, Southern Salar. Voilà!