Organisers Athina Papadopoulou, Sam Houston and Lynn Chalmers were delighted with the turn-out of students and speakers from industry.

Aquaculture careers event is just the job

An event to showcase the wide range of career options for aquaculture students in the UK has been declared the best in its three-year history.

Aquaculture Careers, held at Stirling University’s Institute of Aquaculuture, attracted students from Dundee, Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt and Napier universities, as well Stirling’s own students and a handful from England.

Gilpin Bradley, chairman of SSPO and managing director of Wester Ross Fisheries, made the opening presentation and told an audience of around 50 that aquaculture was an always-controversial but growing, hands-on industry that required employees to shoulder big responsibility.

Politics of aquaculture

He said: “The politics of aquaculture is not going to go away. It will continue to take up a big part of our energy.”

Bradley added: “We want our industry to double by 2030 [by value].”

He continued: “If you have a mobile phone I want you out there. We are farmers, not office workers.”

Emphasising the importance of aquaculture roles, Bradley added: “The typical farm has a stock value on site of between £5 million and £8m at any one time.”

Opportunities available

Therese Fernandez of the Scottish Salmon Company describes her role as a biology assistant.

Many of the speakers were former Stirling students, including Teresa Fernandez, who completed an MSc in sustainable aquaculture two years ago.

Highlighting the opportunities available in every part of the production process, Fernandez worked for Dawnfresh for a year before becoming a biology assistant for the Scottish Salmon Company, a job she loves.

Another former Stirling student, Marcos Garcia, who has been with Marine Harvest for two and a half years, and worked with smolt production at Loch Ness before becoming involved with the supply of cleaner fish, gave a comprehensive description of the sometimes demanding but satisfying task of salmon farming.

Other speakers included Charles Allan, head of the Fish Health Inspectorate at Marine Scotland Science; Ronnie Soutar, of fish vaccination specialists Aqualife; Matthijis Metselaar of Fish Vet Group; Sean Black of Fishguard; Alan Bourhill, of fish food manufacturer Skretting; and Rhuaraidh Edwards, of Fusion Marine, the Argyll-based global equipment supplier to the aquaculture industry.

Best and most successful

The event was organised by PhD students Sam Houston, Lynn Chalmers and Athina Papadopoulou, who together form the Aquaculture Students’ Association, with support from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre.

Houston said: “This has definitely been the best and most successful Aquaculture Careers day so far. We’ve had representatives from 15 or 16 companies come, we’ve had stands for the first time this year, and videos and a great set of talks. It’s been a great pleasure to be involved and seeing it grow under my watch.”

Chalmers said: “I’ve been speaking to a number of the students and everyone has been really positive about the whole day, saying that they didn’t think there were as many places that they could go to and it’s just given them a great idea of what’s out there and what can happen to them at the end [of their course].

“Some of the students doing the production course or the health course think that’s the only route they can go down but to know that you can do health but then go into nutrition or go into production has given them an optimistic view of where to go in the future.”

Papadopoulou said students “liked the balance that we had of experienced and new people who have joined the industry, mostly alumni from the Institute of Aquaculture, and they are really excited to see that they have opportunities, and from the industry [perspective] they are really pleased to see so many people enjoy the event. There are experienced people who are either finishing their PhDs or they about to do their Masters, so they [the industry] know they have qualified people to hire. This is what they are looking for nowadays.”


Published: 19/04/2017 at 12:40 pm

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