A six-year commitment to a wrasse-breeding project earned SSF an SCDI award. Stock photo: IMR, Bergen.

Aquaculture firms honoured by Excellence Awards

Salmon farmers already have plenty of reason to be grateful to cleaner fish for helping battle sea lice, but Scottish Sea Farms can now also thank them for winning an award.

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The company was among the winners at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) Highlands and Islands Business Excellence Awards on Friday, in which another company involved in aquaculture, Ferguson Transport and Shipping, also triumphed.

SSF won the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) Award for Excellence in Environmental Sustainability for its successful six-year collaboration to breed Ballan wrasse from fish that had themselves been bred in captivity – a world first.

Six years in the making

The project, in collaboration with Marine Harvest Scotland and Stirling University’s Institute of Aquaculture, will ensure fewer of the lice-eating wrasse are taken from the wild for use in salmon cages.

Ralph Bickerdike, head of fish health at SSF, said: “Cleaner fish are able to do what no other sea lice management tool can yet do – treat salmon on an individual basis.

“This world-first in farming wrasse, which has been over six years in the making, takes Scotland’s salmon farmers a step closer to having a more sustainable, secure supply. To have both SCDI and SEPA recognise this pioneering work is a huge honour; one that will inspire not just the project partners but the wider sector to continue efforts to farm evermore responsibly.”

Ferguson Transport and Shipping has won the Crown Estate award for the second time in three years.

Second win for Ferguson

Ferguson Transport and Shipping earned the Crown Estate Scotland Award for Excellence in a Marine Business for the second time in three years.

Alasdair Ferguson, group managing director, said: “We have been involved in the marine logistics side of our business for over 20 years and the aquaculture industry for over 40 years. We own, operate and manage all our own assets.

“This is great recognition for the directors, senior management and the larger marine team. We are delighted to have been recognised in this way, with such a prestigious marine award presented by the Crown Estate. Ferguson Transport & Shipping are very proud to be recognised for our services to the aquaculture and the wider marine supply chain, through bulk vessels, work vessels, port, craneage warehousing and integrated supply chain management.”

Mort handling

The company employs over 200 staff and carries out 90% of its fish feed deliveries by sea. The largest of its six vessels, the Harvest Caroline II, is fitted complete with a blowing discharge system designed and built in-house by the Ferguson Shipping engineering team.  

The company has also recently invested in a new innovative design for specific mechanical handling into modular bulk transport tanks to transport and deliver fish mortalities from farms in a strict bio-secure way, allowing for direct delivery of the mortalities for reprocessing.

The shipping side of the business now employs 45 marine staff, including a designated person ashore, marine operations superintendent and marine technical staff for inspection, maintenance and repairs of the shipping fleet.

Continued investment

The four other awards went to Albyn Housing Society (Excellence in Research & Innovation); Alastair Kennedy, Nigg Skills Academy (Outstanding Business Ambassador); Port of Cromarty Firth (Excellence in People Development); and Moray Estates (Outstanding Business Achievement).

Jane Cumming, SCDI Highlands & Islands chair, said: “The Highlands and Islands have a strong and vibrant economy that is home to some of Scotland’s most outstanding businesses.

“The SCDI Awards recognises just some of the businesses who have played their part in its success and we commend all of the award winners on their continued investment and growth in the region.”