Scottish Sea Farms employee Lori Smith is in contention to be named Aquaculture Learner of the Year.

Aquaculture Learner of the Year finalists named

Scottish Sea Farms and Bakkafrost Scotland employees in the frame for Lantra award


Salmon farming trainees Lori Smith and Craig Johnstone have been short-listed for Lantra Scotland’s Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills (the ALBAS), which will take place in March.

Smith is from Bixter in Shetland and has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture through UHI Shetland, while working as a fish technician for Scottish Sea Farms.

She said: “I was born and brought up in the Shetland Islands, where aquaculture is one of our core industries, so naturally I developed an interest in the sector. I love how varied my role is and how each day is different. Every day you are aiming to provide the best care for the fish which is very rewarding.”

Community culture

Johnstone, from Tarbert in Argyll & Bute, has been doing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture through UHI Shetland, while working as a site manager for Bakkafrost Scotland.

Bakkafrost Scotland site manager Craig Johnstone is a finalist in the Aquaculture Learner of the Year category in the ALBAS.

He said: “Coming from Tarbert and having family involved in aquaculture, it was natural for me to follow in their footsteps. I love the community culture of the industry and there is so much to learn. My apprenticeship has taught me to reach for my goals and helped me overcome all the challenges that have come my way.”

Smith and Johnstone will find out which of them has been chosen as Aquaculture Learner of the Year at an awards dinner on Thursday, 9 March at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Dunblane Hydro.

Lantra Scotland works to increase the number and diversity of employees in the land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation sector, and drive their skills development.

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

Finalists for ALBAS 2023 were selected by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector.


The aquaculture sector took four ALBAS last year.

Dawnfresh Farming employee Rey, from Glendevon, Dollar, was named Aquaculture Learner of the Year, and Emily Underhill, a freshwater fish health biologist at Scottish Sea Farms, was named runner-up.

Another SSF employee, Derek Ferguson, received two awards.

Ferguson was named winner of the Higher Education SCQF Level 9+ category for completing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management at Shetland UHI in under a year instead of the normal two years, while working for Grieg Seafood Shetland (now owned by SSF) at Setterness.

He was also named Overall Runner-up at the ALBAS.