The last 9th of October, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries announced that Benchmark Genetics Norway had been granted two broodstock licenses: 360 tons for production in the sea and 420 tons for production on land in Benchmark Genetics Salten. This represents an important milestone for Benchmark, enhancing their capabilities and the security of supply for our customers.
They have assured that the additional broodstock capacity enlarges the selection pool in treir genetics program, reduces operational risk by having broodstock volume at different sites, and supports the future potential expansion of our production of ova in Salten.
In that sense, Trond Williksen commented: “Benchmark’s genetics operations are core to our ability to supply highly bio-secure salmon eggs to salmon producers year-round. The grant of the new licenses reflects Benchmark’s leading position in the industry, track record, and quality of our operations. The two new licenses enable us to increase further security of supply of bio-secure, high-quality eggs with high-performing genetic traits for our customers supporting our mission to drive sustainability in aquaculture.”
New Senior Geneticist based in Bergen
In addition to this news, the company reported that Maria Nayfa has recently joined Benchmark’s Genetics team as a Senior Geneticist based in Bergen, Norway. She joins the company after having worked in the aquaculture industry in both Singapore and Australia.
Nayfa joins Benchmark Genetics’ leading team of more than 25 specialized geneticists and selective breeding experts. “We are excited to have Maria on board and are confident that her expertise will significantly contribute to our organization’s continued success,” they assured.
The experience of Nayfa revolves around the use of genetics in aquaculture selective breeding programs to improve global food security and aquaculture production. In particular, she has experience in applied aquaculture genetics, quantitative genetics, population genetics, and the use of molecular data to correct paper pedigree records in selective breeding programs.
Nayfa is a big proponent of international partnerships and has worked closely with collaborators on projects in nine countries and on more than ten species. She completed her BSc with Distinction at Duke University (United States), MSc at James Cook University (Australia), and her Ph.D. in Aquaculture Genetics also at James Cook University.
Benchmark’s Genetic Services has now expanded its technology portfolio, including providing extensive genomic tools and highly cost-effective genotyping solutions for a wide range of global aquaculture species. In her role as Senior Geneticist, Nayfa will be responsible for technical deliveries to major external clients, including assessing and advising selective breeding programs and implementing these new technologies to optimize genetic improvement.
Berta Contreras Mutis, Managing Director in Chile
Finally, the company reported that Berta Contreras Mutis is the new Managing Director in Benchmark Genetics Chile. From September 18, 2023, Contreras has assumed the role of General Manager, succeeding Pablo Mazo, who has transitioned to the position of Performance and Documentation Manager at Benchmark Genetics in Norway.
Contreras has a significant reputation in the Chilean industry from previous managing roles. A marine chemist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile with an MBA from Universidad del Desarrollo, she has a long history within the Chilean salmon industry. Her previous roles encompass Technical Manager and Corporate Affairs Manager at Marine Harvest Chile (now Mowi Chile), Managing Partner at Conecta Spa, and, more recently, Technical Manager and Research and Development at Cermaq Chile.
Geir Olav Melingen, President of the Board of Directors of Benchmark Genetics Chile, expressed the company’s pride in welcoming Berta to the Chilean team. He noted, “We firmly believe, that Berta is the right person to lead our continued growth in this market, where an increasing number of farmers are showing interest in our Atlantic salmon ova.”
Melingen went on to say: “We extend our best wishes for success to Berta and all our collaborators in Chile as they embark on this new phase. Her extensive experience and profound understanding of the salmon farming sector will undoubtedly contribute to the continued expansion of our operations in the country, always with a focus on performance, biosecurity, and the delivery of high-quality services.”
In addition, the President of the Board conveyed his gratitude to Pablo Mazo for his invaluable contributions during his tenure of over three years in the Chilean branch. He emphasized Pablo’s pivotal role in positioning and launching Benchmark Genetics Chile. “Thanks to his rigor and business vision, we have achieved significant milestones. We look forward to further growth under the guidance of our new leadership.”