Thomas Begg with his trophy and, from left: Aquaculture UK chief Cheri Arvonio; Terje Vestad, international sales director for award category sponsor OptoScale; and awards show host Fred MacAulay.

'It is amazing to have been recognised for making a positive impact'

Veteran's joy at receiving Fish Farmer of the Year award

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Bakkafrost Scotland site manager Thomas Begg, who was named Fish Farmer of the Year in Aviemore last week, has spoken of his joy at receiving the accolade.

The salmon sector veteran said: “Being nominated for this award felt like a victory in itself. It is amazing to have been recognised for making a positive impact within my team and the industry. It means a lot to me especially after 38 years of dedication and hard work.

“I am grateful to my colleagues, whose tremendous support and shared dedication has made this possible. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey.”

Begg, manager at West Loch Roag, received his award at the Aquaculture Awards 2024 dinner held at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort last Wednesday following the two-day Aquaculture UK trade show in the Highland town.

Thomas Begg, second from left, with the West Loch Roag team, from left: Roddy MacLean, Gavin MacIver, and Neil Buchanan.

Bakkafrost Scotland also had cause to celebrate when it received the Animal Welfare award for a training programme run by head of health Kimberley McKinnell.

The initiative helped educate teams and raise awareness about fish health, biological challenges, ways of monitoring and the importance of identifying trends.

The training sessions and workshops cover gill health, plankton monitoring, jellyfish monitoring and general welfare. Those who attended the events had the opportunity to use stereo microscopes all on site and to monitor jellyfish through a central hub.

Bakkafrost Scotland head of health Kimberley McKinnell with her award and, from left: Cheri Arvonio; Professor Simon MacKenzie from category sponsor the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling; Fred MacAulay.

“We are thrilled and honoured to receive the Animal Welfare award. This comes at a time when we are seeing the hard work of our teams start to bear fruit, with tangible improvements in survivability, lice control and gill health,” said McKinnell.

“Thank you to all of the production teams for their engagement with the welfare programmes and to the biology team for their constant support.”

Bakkafrost Scotland managing director Ian Laister said: “It is tremendous to have won two awards at the Aquaculture Awards this year.

“The Fish Farmer of the Year award recognises the hard work, dedication and commitment Thomas has shown both to our business and the strong ethics he has a marine site manager.

“The welfare initiative has once again been well attended and we are seeing real signs of positive impact across the business, as a result.”