Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook was presented with the outstanding contribution award.

Inspirational figures recognised by Women in Scottish Aquaculture

Five awards mark International Women's Day


Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) has today announced a series of awards for inspirational figures from across the sector.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, which takes place today, the network invited nominations from over 300 WiSA group members across a range of categories, giving recognition to the positive and impactful role the winners play in Scottish aquaculture.

Elizabeth Cottier-Cook, professor in Marine Biology at the Oban-based Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), was presented with the outstanding contribution award. The judging panel highlighted her work to deliver impactful research alongside initiatives to improve inclusion across higher education and academia.

Extremely honoured

Among other achievements, Cottier-Cook established a European Joint Master’s Degree in aquaculture that has awarded 126 scholarships to EU and international students since 2015.

“It was such a surprise to be told I had won the outstanding contribution award, but I am also extremely honoured. It is important to celebrate the success of women in any STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field,” said Cottier-Cook.

“There is an increasing number of women working in aquaculture and it is interesting to note that in the eight years of our Joint Master’s Degree, women have made up roughly two-thirds of our students.”

Ingrid Kelling, chair of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and assistant professor at Heriot-Watt University, was named academic champion of the year. In 2022, Ingrid helped to shine a light on gender issues as part of the MASTS annual conference and by co-authoring a report on diversity in Scottish aquaculture.

Mowi's learning and development manager Donald Waring was named ally of the year.

Donald Waring, learning and development manager at Scotland’s biggest salmon farmer, Mowi, was named ally of the year, with the panel recognising his efforts to provide practical support and encouragement to WiSA members, including taking part in the group’s successful mentoring scheme.

Rising star

Charlotte Bolton, freshwater optimiser at Bakkafrost Scotland, was also named rising star of the year, while Connie Patillo, Western Isles area manager for Mowi, was named role model of the year.

The WiSA network, which was founded by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) on International Women’s Day 2019, represents all areas of the sector from producers and the supply chain to academia, and champions the diverse range of career opportunities for women in aquaculture.

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “These awards provide a great opportunity to celebrate the important role that women play across the aquaculture sector and all recipients are well deserving of the recognition.

“WiSA was established as a network where women can support one another in a typically male-dominated sector and, four years later, our focus remains on raising awareness of the societal and commercial benefits that come from a diverse workforce, fairly offering opportunities for all.”