Winners line up with their trophies at the Aquaculture Awards 2024 in Aviemore last night.

Salmon farming champion honoured at aquaculture awards

Bradley is people's choice on night when Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms and Bakkafrost also do well


Former Wester Ross Fisheries boss Gilpin Bradley was given the award for Outstanding Contribution to aquaculture in Aviemore last night during an evening when the achievements of a wide variety of individuals and companies were celebrated.

Bradley, who retired last year due to ill health, is a former chairman of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (now Salmon Scotland) and an eloquent advocate for both Wester Ross, which is now owned by Mowi, and the wider sector.

His award was one of 13 presented at the Aquaculture Awards 2024 ceremony at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort, but unlike the others it was not chosen by a judging panel. Instead, it was voted for by the industry public.

Gilpin Bradley with his award.
The Ace Aquatec team with their Innovation award.

It was a good night for Dundee-based fish farming tech innovator Ace Aquatec, which won two awards. The first was the Collaboration award, and was won jointly with Tiny Fish, a company led by Teresa Garzon. Tiny Fish seeks to find customers for the hatchery fish that are least likely to thrive at sea and are euthanised with Ace Aquatec’s portable Humane Culling System (A-HCS). Until recently, such fish were euthanised with an overdose of anaesthetic and had to be buried or destroyed, but using the A-HCS means they remain fit for consumption.

Ace Aquatec also won the Innovation award, for its A-Biomass camera that has taken several years to develop.

Double winners

There were also double triumphs for salmon farmers Mowi Scotland, Scottish Sea Farms, and Bakkafrost Scotland.

Mowi’s Silvia Viale was joint winner of the Rising Star award, and the company also won the Community Initiative award for the money and effort it puts into supporting local causes.

Scottish Sea Farms’ IT engineer David Lipcsey shared the Rising Star title for his work leading the integration of ex-Grieg Seafood Shetland systems following its acquisition by SSF in 2021.

This included replacing inherited hatchery IT with all-new infrastructure; transitioning ex-Grieg farms away from centralised feeding to Scottish Sea Farms’ preferred approach of individual farm feeding; and integrating the networks of two separate processing facilities.

SSF IT operations and infrastructure leader Colin Kupris said: “It wasn’t just the complexity of the projects completed that impressed. It was also the sheer number of competing projects that David coped with, all in his customary unflappable manner.

“Quite simply, without him we couldn’t have achieved what we have.”

Unsung hero

Ralph Bickerdike, SSF’s head of fish health and welfare, was named Unsung Hero.

Bickerdike, who gained a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology at Plymouth University and PhD in Biology/Biochemistry at the University of St Andrews, joined SSF in 2016 after 12 years with feed producer BioMar, where he focused on the connection between fish feed and fish health, helping bring into being several of the leading products on offer today.

“From my first meeting with Ralph it was clear how much he cared about nutrition, fish health and helping farmers do the very best by the livestock in their care,” said SSF managing director Jim Gallagher.

“I felt he could make an even bigger difference working directly for us, and without doubt he has.”

Eight years on, Bickerdike now leads a team of 13, including four in-house vets.

Veteran farmer

Farmer of the Year was Bakkafrost Scotland veteran Thomas Begg, who has worked in the sector for nearly 40 years. Described as a “Hebridean hero”, he was the judges’ unanimous choice from a shortlist of five.

Kim McKinnell collects Bakkafrost Scotland's Animal Welfare award.
John Holmyard holding his Producer of the Year award.

Bakkafrost Scotland also won the Animal Welfare award for its staff training programme in fish care and welfare, led by head of health Kimberley McKinnell.

The Aquaculture Supplier of the Year award went to service boats operator Inverlussa Marine Services, of Mull, and the Best New Start-Up was ChucaoTech, a Chilean company which is expanding internationally and uses nanobubble technology to enhance fish health in fish farms.

Ayrshire-based net supplier W&J Knox won the Sustainability award for its recycling scheme for nets and ropes. It has so far prevented 51 tonnes of nets and ropes going to landfill.

Mussel power

The Best Producer of the Year award went to mussel farmer John Holmyard, of Offshore Shellfish, who grows shellfish off the coast of Devon. Holmyard was described as a pioneer of the industry who is leading the way globally with the development of offshore mariculture.

The Judge’s Special Recognition Award, selected by the judges for impressive commitment and responsible aquaculture, went to Sarah Riddle, managing director of Northern Light Consulting. Riddle was described as a “one-woman dynamo” who has helped the sector in a variety of ways, as well as running a girl’s football team.