John Turner

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I am really enjoying working in an innovative environment surrounded by people who are passionate about the projects they are running. It’s exciting to help with something that may make a significant difference to the farmers as well as the quality of life of the animals themselves.

John Turner

Aquaculture Researcher, Benchmark Advanced Nutrition, Belgium

How long have you been with Benchmark?

2 months.

Where were you before and why did you join Benchmark? 

I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Cornwall and was determined to find ways of making food production easier.

During my MSc in Marine Biotechnology at the University of Stirling, I started to come into contact with the Scottish salmon industry as a result of my dissertation which was focused on improving lumpfish production. We collected samples at FAI Aultbae where I saw a fantastic system with magnets for deshelling artemia – the SEP-Art system from Benchmark Advanced Nutrition, or INVE as it’s often still referred to in the industry!

Upon graduation I made it clear to my supervisors that I wanted to go into the aquaculture industry, and I got an interview with The Scottish Salmon Company to work as a Freshwater Operative at their main smolt production facility at Russell Burn, now Applecross Hatchery. I was involved in treatments, vaccinations, grading and transfer to the sea, as well as the hatchery side of things, such as egg selection and early stage feeding.

After two years’, learning as much as possible about the production side of things, I was fortunate enough to start with INVE in Belgium where I hope to put some of my experience so far into developing new Advanced Nutrition products and solutions for the salmon industry.

Can you describe your role? 

I’m still pretty new but I’ve already been helping with fish nutrition projects – breaking and sieving feed, weighing formulas and helping with pilot extrusion. It’s great to see how feeds are made after using various salmon diets. Now I am starting to appreciate the challenges with formulation and production.

What’s your favourite part of the role?

I am really enjoying working in an innovative environment surrounded by people who are passionate about the projects they are running. It’s exciting to help with something that may make a significant difference to the farmers as well as the quality of life of the animals themselves.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Learning as much as I can about the projects I am assigned to and understanding how to run multiple project in parallel. I was initially worried about moving from being very hands on in industry to a research and development role but it’s totally fine, there is a great mix of practical, lab and office work.

Tell us about the people you work with

It’s really great to work with people who are so passionate about aquaculture! The experience here in the innovations department is invaluable and I feel very lucky to be working alongside such funny and professional people who have made me feel very welcome here in Belgium.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

Mountaineering (less so in Belgium), climbing and painting.

What makes you happy?

I really enjoy producing healthy animals and there was a real sense of pride when a cycle of good fish went to sea. Toward the end of 2018, I was observing smolt transfer to the sea cages on a well boat and it was great to hear what the marine operatives thought of the fish.