Scottish Sea Farms assistant site manager Craig Ground loves his life on the loch.

Discovering salmon farming has been a net gain for award contender Craig


A fish farmer who says he was unaware of the industry until moving to Scotland is one of three who have been shortlisted for the title of Lantra Scotland’s aquaculture trainee of the year.

Craig Grounds from Oban in Argyll and Bute has completed his Modern Apprenticeship Level 3 in Aquaculture at UHI Shetland while working as an assistant site manager at salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms.

“Coming from the northeast of England, I had never seen or heard of salmon farming,” said Gounds. “When I relocated here and spoke to people about it, I knew it would be the job for me. Being out in nature, weather and the physicality of the work really appeals to me. I have loved every minute so far.”

Grounds is one of three salmon farmers in contention for one of rural skills organisation Lantra’s Awards for Landbased and Aquaculture Skills (ALBAS), which will be presented at the Crieff Hydro on Thursday, March 7.

The other contenders are Stuart Lavender, from Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, and Hamish MacLean from Bakkafrost Scotland.

Bakkafrost Scotland area manager Hamish MacLean, left, and Cooke Aquaculture site assistant Stuart Lavender have been shortlisted for Lantra's Aquaculture Learner of the Year award.

Lavender, from Mossbank in Shetland, has completed his MA Level 2 in Aquaculture at UHI Shetland while working as a site sssistant for Cooke.

He said: “Getting into aquaculture has opened my eyes to how many different sectors and opportunities there are. Doing my SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualification) level 2 and 3 has given me the knowledge and understanding, improving and pushing forward my career in aquaculture.”

A job on the doorstep

MacLean, from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, has completed his SCQF (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework) Level 9 - the equivalent of a degree - in Aquaculture Management at UHI Shetland while working as an area manager for Bakkafrost Scotland.

He said: “I enjoyed working on boats and on water in previous jobs. The Scottish Salmon Company (now Bakkafrost Scotland) had just installed a new farm right in front of my house. I met with the manager and the rest is history!”

The host for the awards evening in March will be “Red Shepherdess” Hannah Jackson, a farmer, public speaker, writer, adventurer, and photographer.

Rural skills

Industry categories at this year’s ALBAS cover agriculture, animal care, aquaculture, equine, game and wildlife, horticulture, land-based engineering, and trees and timber.

Lantra Scotland director Liz Barron-Majerik said the ALBAS helped highlight the achievements of new entrants and career changers in the rural skills sector and showed people the benefits of skills development and partnership working.

“I would like to say a heartfelt congratulations to every one of this year’s finalists and wish them good luck at the ALBAS ceremony in March, but I’d also like to say a big ‘well done’ to all of our nominees. We had a record number of nominations which were of a very high standard indeed,” added Barron-Majerik.