Billy Welsh, 24, from Stromness in Orkney, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with Scottish Sea Farms through the NAFC Marine Centre UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands) in Shetland.
Janis Brivkalns, 34, from Dunoon, has also been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture, in his case with the Scottish Salmon Company through Inverness College UHI.
Harry Hamlin-Wright, 29, from Perth, works for Dawnfresh Farming and completed an MSc in Aquatic Veterinary Studies with the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture.
The fourth aquaculture-linked candidate in the finals is Andrew Richardson, 26 and originally from Skye, who has been doing an Erasmus Mundus joint masters degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society through the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI.
The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro, which will be hosted by Perthshire farmer and stand-up comedian Jim Smith.
Lantra Scotland is the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries. The awards include categories for the agriculture, animal care, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering and environmental conservation industries, as well as Higher Education, Rural Schools, Modern Apprentice of the Year and CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) Awards.
Liz Barron-Majerik, director of Lantra Scotland, said: “As well as highlighting the achievements of new entrants to our sector, the awards play a key role in promoting the importance of gaining qualifications and developing skills, for both trainees and their employers.
“Everyone who was nominated, whether a finalist or not, should be extremely proud of this recognition, and we look forward to celebrating their success at our ceremony.”
The finalists for this year’s awards were chosen by an independent judging panel which included Lisa Connell of the Scottish Salmon Company.
The winner of last year’s Aquaculture Learner of the Year category was Scottish Sea Farms employee Alan Tangny, from Mull. The runner-up was Marine Harvest employee Scott Forder, who followed up his second place by winning promotion from farm technician at Torridon to farm manager at Loch Ewe. Forder was also named best Aquaculture Modern Apprenticeship student 2018 by Inverness College UHI.