Laura Tulip is currently an Environmental Analyst at Mowi Scotland Ltd which involves securing all permissions and licences necessary for fish farm site development and modifications. She has a Bachelors of Science (with honours) from Newcastle University, a Masters of Research from the University of St. Andrews, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh.
What inspired you to become involved in aquaculture?
I was attracted to aquaculture because of the innovative nature of the industry and the vast opportunities within the sector. I wanted to work in an industry or role that allowed me to apply and utilise my academic qualifications, which is the case in my current role. Additionally, I wanted a job in which I could potentially develop my career, and the Scottish aquaculture industry provides the opportunity for that. I am proud to work in the Scottish salmon sector that is Scotland’s largest food export which produces climate-friendly protein to feed growing populations.
Briefly describe your aquaculture career
I started studying for a degree in Marine Biology at Newcastle University in 2008, immediately followed by a postgraduate degree in Ecosystem based management of marine systems (MRes) at the University of St Andrews / Scottish Association of Marine Science. Relocation from Newcastle to Scotland for my Masters really made me aware of the size of the Scottish aquaculture industry and the wide-ranging opportunities for future employment. During my Masters degree we had a module which included a workshop on AutoDepomod (now updated to NewDepomod), in which we learnt how fish farms were regulated and modelled to ensure they operated within the environmental capacity of the site. This workshop further spiked my interest in the sector, and potential opportunities for employment within the environmental and regulatory aspect of the business.
After finishing my Masters in 2012, I had a couple of years working in other roles including working in Cambodia and travelling before deciding on what to do next. I started my PhD in 2014 with The University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Association of Marine Science investigating the biogeochemical composition of marine particulate material at sequential stages of transport through the water column to the seafloor. My PhD involved a large degree of field and boat work which I thoroughly enjoyed. I knew I wanted a job in industry which had the opportunity of field work and working outdoors, and the aquaculture sector seemed like the perfect choice. I started with Mowi Scotland Ltd as an Environmental Analyst when I was submitting my PhD in 2018. Since starting with Mowi I have had so many opportunities which I am grateful for and I look forward to developing my career in the sector.
How important has networking been to your career?
Yes, networking is very important. During my academic and professional career I have found it can be a surprisingly small world crossing paths multiple times with colleagues and friends during various stages of our careers. I would recommend The Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) mentoring scheme which I participated in last year. It enabled me to network with colleagues from a wide range of areas within the sector and established connections with people that have continued since.
During your career, have you noticed inequalities in the sector, be it in policies or culture? If yes, what actions do you think would best address those issues?
I am relatively new to the aquaculture sector and I have to say I have not experienced any inequalities to date. I am lucky in my current role that I have felt supported and encouraged in all aspects of my work. However, I am the type of person if somebody tells me I cannot do something for whatever reason, it makes me even more determined to achieve it. My advice would be if you are facing inequalities rise above it and pursue your goals.
What advice would you give to someone (man or woman) looking to start a career in the aquaculture sector, or progress their existing career?
Go for it! Do not be afraid to reach out, start conversations, and connect with people you are interested in or want to work with.
What do you think will be the key drivers/areas for innovation for Scottish aquaculture in the next decade?
As an industry, there is constant innovation at different scales; from day-to-day operations at fish farm sites to academic and industry led research projects on a whole host of areas. It is important to continue with this work and development of the industry so we can continue to maintain best possible practices and operate sustainably for generations to come.
Additionally, I think that communication of the sector and its development is vital as Scottish finfish aquaculture can face some quite harsh critism. I think that it is important to be involved in well-balanced discussions using the best available science to promote and be proud of the work we do in growing sustainable and internationally recognised Scottish Salmon.Read more interviews