The winners and runners-up celebrate at the Aquaculture Awards 2022, held in Aviemore last night. Photo: Diversified UK.

Double delight for Scottish Sea Farms and Kames at Aquaculture Awards

One of Scotland’s biggest fish farmers and one of its smallest each celebrated a double triumph at the Aquaculture Awards 2022, held in Aviemore last night.

Published Last updated

The country’s second largest salmon producer, Scottish Sea Farms, which will this year harvest more than 40,000 tonnes of fish, won the Economic Sustainability award for its advances made with regards to recruitment and retention at time when competition for talent is fiercer than ever.

And Stephen Woods, farm manager at SSF’s Charlotte’s Bay site at Oban, was named Finfish Farmer of the Year.

Andre Van: Joint winner of the Rising Star Award.

Best company

At the other end of scale – at least in terms of volume – steelhead trout producer Kames, of Kilmelford, near Oban, which harvests around 3,000 tonnes of fish annually, was named Best Aquaculture Company.

The company’s fish health manager, Andre Van, who has a doctorate in fish immunology from the University of Stirling, was joint winner of the Rising Star award, along with Rhianna Rees of SAMS Enterprise, the commercial arm of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, which is also based near Oban.

‘Employer of choice’

Speaking about the Economic Sustainability Award, SSF’s head of human resources and business support Tracy Bryant-Shaw said: “In 2020 we set ourselves the goal of becoming the employer of choice within our communities and sector, and we have been reviewing and revising our key policies ever since  because ensuring we are meeting the needs and wants of today’s employees is crucial if we are to continue recruiting and retaining the best people.

“This latest award win – which comes on the back of triple Investors in People accreditation in 2021 – is further affirmation of the very real strides that we are making.”

Amongst the key changes introduced are enhanced maternity and paternity packages for all employees with one or more years’ service – changes that have proven an instant hit with the company’s younger employees.

Stephen Woods, described by boss Jim Gallagher as "the farm manager every producer wants". Photo: SSF.

Top performer

Stephen Woods is one of SSF’s best performing farm managers of all time. Managing director Jim Gallagher said: “Stephen is the farm manager every producer wants: he cares deeply about his fish, has a forensic knowledge of what’s happening on his farm, and he takes full responsibility for everything within his control, with the result that he consistently delivers high fish survival at a low cost-base. If there was a mould to make more Stephen Woods, I’d be first in line to buy it.”

Mowi Scotland took the Collaboration Award for its Brexit Working Group, and its Mowi Academy was a runner-up in the Innovation Award, which went to BMT for its decision support system.

Community health

Another salmon farmer, the Scottish Salmon Company, won the Community Initiative Award for its Healthy Communities Community Charter. Mowi was again a runner-up for its Salmon Wagon.

The University of Stirling and Dundee-based aquaculture supplier Ace Aquatec won the Animal Welfare Award, and the university’s Nutritional Analytical Service was named Aquaculture Supplier of the Year.

Norwegian company Fjord Maritime, which produces the Fjord Hybrid battery and inverter technology for hybrid feed barges and is setting up a base in Scotland, won the Environmental Impact Award, and Judith Vajk of Caldeonian Oysters was named Shellfish Farmer of the Year.

Unsung hero

The Judges’ Special Recognition Award went to Pacific Ocean Aquaculture, and Cooke Aquaculture Scotland’s Ian Keen-Smith was named Unsung Hero.

Fish research author Jim Treasurer was given the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry.

The full list of winners and runners-up is available here.