The Aquaculture industry is filled with different personalities and professionals. It is extremely exciting to be able to share these stories from all over the world. It is inspiring to find people from all backgrounds and ages. For this Talent View, I recently had the opportunity to meet Jean-Marc Libioulle. He is 60 years old, originally from Belgium, though he has had many international experiences from the beginning of his Aquaculture path.
Jean-Marc Graduated as Master in Zoology from Université de Liège. He has a specialization in Water Management from the same university. Later on, he also graduated in Aquaculture Projects Management, from Universidad Internacional del Ecuador. Jean-Marc is currently working as a consultant for Governments and the Aquaculture and Fisheries industries. And with broad experience, this is a very interesting story to share with all of you.
Have you met many people that choose zoology as their career? Not me, so I definitely had to ask Jean-March how and why he choose zoology. He says “I was dreaming about zoology since primary school. In the 6th grade, we were supposed to have a quote on the yearbook about what we wanted to do growing up. I was only 12 years old, but I already knew I wanted zoology. I love animals, wildlife, exploring, the forest, nature. So, I wanted to study something that got me close to that”.
Jean-Marc finished secondary school and asked his father if he could go study in the university. He would be the first person in his family to attend university. His father gave in. At first, it did not come easy for Jean-Marc. But then it all transitioned smoothly.
Where does Aquaculture Come in the Picture for Jean-Marc Libioulle?
After his bachelor’s in Zoology, he decided to go for a graduate program in Water Management. He was interested in traveling abroad for work. He was hired to work in Ecuador, an experience that changed his life, he met his wife in Guayaquil and spent 15 years in South America building a life. At the time of his decision, it was not clear to him that Aquaculture was his call
“I knew some things. First that I wanted to work in a foreign country. The second thing I knew was that I wanted to work in something where you can help people. My first job in Ecuador was helping farmers with a development project. And seeing how Aquaculture transformed their lives, not only financially, but also as a means to not damage the environment, was really important for me”.
Jean-Marc decided to join the Aquaculture industry all in. To help the environment, for the oceans, the seas, and the fish. He joined to improve the industry and reduce IUU fisheries. To help people in poverty-stricken communities improve their living conditions.
For quite some time, Jean-Marc was involved and committed to certification organizations. Given not-so-recent commentaries about the validity of these organizations, it was my duty to ask him about it. “Getting certified is not difficult as long as you do everything correctly. If the company follows good practices, it will receive its certification. But to be fair, certifications are insurance for buyers and final consumers. They will have answers about your process and will be more likely to purchase your products”.
“Certifications come from independent bodies. The standards are different among organizations and they vary year after year. Every year things are improving, new things are developed, so it’s only natural for standards to change. Certifications, in the end, are good for the farmer, the environment, and the consumer. They are definitely the way to go”.
The Deserted Island Scenario… With a Twist
So, Jean-Marc, If you had to go to another industry and you could only take one thing from the Aquaculture industry, what would you take? “Passion. We can become passionate about different things, we just need to find what makes us passionate. There are many things I have learned in Aquaculture and Fisheries that I can extrapolate to any other industry. But a passion that can certainly help me out in any industry is my passion for audit. Every process, company, product, system, etc, can be audited. You can find shortcomings and weaknesses and implement action plans to improve them”.
The Aquaculture industry is not one free of challenges and hurdles. Jean-Marc has worked in different countries on four continents. Has traveled to over 50 countries for work. So he has had the opportunity to become familiar with many cultures and challenges the industry faces. He says Aquaculture represents challenges depending on the location. But the main one is definitely trying to make the industry more sustainable.
“Then for aquaculture farms, the challenge is to make it sustainable and profitable. Temperatures in some locations are a challenge. But definitely, the most common challenge is people. Training people is not an easy task. You need to make sure everyone does their work properly, or everything can go south in just the blink of an eye. Dealing with people also includes keeping them motivated, not everyone is extremely passionate about the industry, though, most of us are. So if they are not, you need to educate them on the importance of their work and find with them their passion inside the industry”.