Sheep farming social media personality Cammy Wilson presents Dawnfresh Farming employee Emmanuelle Rey with the Aquaculture Learner of the Year trophy at Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS ceremony. Photo: Lantra.

Fish farmers to the 'four' in rural skills awards

Freshwater fish health biologist Emmanuelle Rey was last night named Scotland’s Aquaculture Learner of the Year at a rural skills awards event where three fish farmers picked up four prizes.

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Dawnfresh Farming employee Rey, 43, from Glendevon, Dollar, took the title at skills body Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills) ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dunblane Hydro. The award was a bright moment for Dawnfresh in a week when parent company Dawnfresh Seafood announced it had called in administrators and put its salmonid farming operation up for sale.

Rey, who did a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with Shetland UHI, said: “It’s an honour to be selected for these awards. Working in aquaculture is a fantastic career and I can’t wait for the next chapter.”

Emily Underhill was runner-up in the Aquaculture Learner of the Year category. Photo: SSF.

Three for SSF

Emily Underhill, 27, a freshwater fish health biologist at Scottish Sea Farms, was named runner-up in the Aquaculture category, and another SSF employee, Derek Ferguson, received two awards.

Ferguson, 34, was named winner of the Higher Education SCQF Level 9+ category for completing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management at Shetland UHI in under a year instead of the normal two years, while working for Grieg Seafood Shetland (now owned by Scottish Sea Farms) at Setterness.

He was also named Overall Runner-up at the ALBAS.

“During the pandemic, when we were split into two teams, there were days when we would get an hour here and there and I spent that time on the coursework,” said Ferguson.

“Obviously, on the farm it’s very hands-on and this was a good opportunity to learn about the other side of the business.”

Derek Ferguson, formerly with Grieg and now Scottish Sea Farms, won two awards. Photo: SSF.

Processing to farming

Ferguson, who moved from Glasgow to Lerwick initially to work in fish processing, said he “kept knocking on doors” until he was given the chance to work on a salmon farm.

After four years he was asked to work in the cleaner fish team and by 2019 he had been promoted to assistant farm manager. He hopes one day to manage his own farm.

“It’s been a great evening, and to be selected as Overall Runner-up and come away with a Higher Education Award is fantastic,” said Ferguson. 

“I pass on my congratulations to all the other nominees and winners and thank everyone who has supported me along the way. I’m also looking forward to the next chapter with Scottish Sea Farms.”

‘A great advocate’

Ferguson was nominated by his tutor in Shetland, Stuart Fitzsimmons, who said: “Derek continued to do his coursework during the Covid pandemic, which is impressive considering the high workload, displaying his total commitment to aquaculture and his enthusiasm.

“We need more people like Derek in the challenging aquaculture sector, particularly at remote marine sites. He is a great advocate for future apprentices and the industry.”

SSF’s head of human resources Tracy Bryant-Shaw said the company was proud of Ferguson’s achievements.

“Derek is an asset to Scottish Sea Farms, and we look forward to watching him develop his talents even further in our Shetland operations. He thoroughly deserves this recognition of his dedication and hard work,” said Bryant-Shaw.


The ALBAS cover the agriculture, aquaculture, equine, environmental conservation, game and wildlife, horticulture, land-based engineering and trees and timber sectors.

They were presented last night by sheep farmer and social media personality Cammy Wilson, who has a channel called The Sheep Game.

Neither of SSF’s employees were able to attend last night’s ceremony, so their prizes were collected on their behalf by Shetland UHI tutor Saro Saravanan.