Finfish Farmer of the Year Noelia Rodriguez with Scottish Sea Farms managing director Jim Gallagher (centre) and freshwater manager Pål Tangvik. Photo: SSF

Local heroes big winners in worldwide awards

Pioneering mussel farmer Offshore Shellfish has been named Best Aquaculture Company of 2020 in this year’s Aquaculture Awards, announced today.

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It was a double celebration for Europe’s largest mussel farm, based in Brixham, Devon, with George Holmyard, son of founders John and Nicki, hailed as Shellfish Farmer of the Year.

The coveted Finfish Farmer of the Year award went to Scottish Sea Farms’ Noelia Rodriguez, operations manager at the company’s new Barcaldine RAS Hatchery.

Scottish Sea Farms also won the Economic Sustainability prize for its Orkney housing project that provides employee homes on the remote island of Eday.

The Scottish Salmon Company, meanwhile, was recognised for its Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub, winning the Community Initiative award.


George Holmyard, Shellfish Farmer of the Year

The Aquaculture Awards mark the achievements of the aquaculture industry worldwide, and have been open to international entries since last year.

Other winners revealed in Wednesday’s online ceremony were InnovaFeed, the French insect feed start-up, which triumphed in the Environmental Impact category and also scooped the People’s Choice Award, decided by popular vote.

Amy Novogratz, co-founder and head of Dutch sustainable aquaculture focused investment fund Aqua-Spark, received the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry award, one of a total of 14 winners in the competition, which is organised by Diversified Communications UK.


The awards had been due to be presented in a traditional ceremony at the Aquaculture UK exhibition in Aviemore in May, but the event had to be called off due to the Covid lockdown.

While the show has been postponed until next spring, it was agreed that the 2020 awards should go ahead, albeit in a new virtual format.

Cheri Arvonio, event director at Diversified Communications UK, said: ‘Big thanks must go to our judges and sponsors for their continued support.  And congratulations again to each of our fantastic winners – you really are the very best in the business. 

‘We would have loved to have celebrated with you all in person but unfortunately it just wasn’t possible this year. 

‘We’re already looking ahead to May 2021, when we can get together again at our industry show Aquaculture UK.’

Judging panel

This year’s judging panel was made up of leading industry professionals, including: Alex Adrian, aquaculture operations manager of Crown Estate Scotland; Martin Gill, head of aquaculture and fisheries at Lloyds Register; Nicki Holmyard, director of Offshore Shellfish; Professor Dave Little, head of research at University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture; Ingrid Olesen, senior scientist at Nofima; and The Fish Site’s Rob Fletcher.  

Fletcher said: ‘This is the third year that I've been fortunate enough to judge the awards, which are the perfect showcase for the best practitioners operating in the global aquaculture sector today.

‘I'm much looking forward to raising a (virtual) glass of something special on behalf of all the winners.’

The Aquaculture Awards 2020 winners and sponsors in full:

Finfish farmer of the year – sponsored by Gael Force Group

Noelia Rodriguez, operations manager for Scottish Sea Farms’ Barcaldine RAS Hatchery (UK)

Shellfish farmer of the year – sponsored by M&S Select Farms

George Holmyard, manager of Offshore Shellfish (UK)

Outstanding contribution to the industry – sponsored by Marine Scotland

Amy Novogratz, co-founder and head of Aqua-Spark (Netherlands)

Environmental impact – sponsored by Cargill

InnovaFeed – insect protein producer (France)

Aquaculture supplier of the year – sponsored by Stingray

Benchmark Genetics/StofnFiskur (Iceland)

Community initiative – sponsored by Diversified Communications UK

The Scottish Salmon Company – Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub (OHLEH Project) (UK)

Economic sustainability – sponsored by BioMar

Scottish Sea Farms – Eday Employee Housing in Scotland (UK)

Animal welfare – sponsored by MSD Animal Health

John Avizienius and Malcolm Johnstone, RSPCA Assured (UK)

Innovation – sponsored by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group – novel packaging solution (UK)

Rising star – sponsored by AILG Skills Group

Funke Olatunde, Imoran Farms (Nigeria)

Unsung hero – sponsored by Diversified Communications UK

Professor Charles Ngugi, Karatina University (Kenya)

Collaboration – sponsored by the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture

The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) (UK)

To watch the ceremony visit