Teresa Garzon, left, and Rowena Hoare are the new co-chairs of Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA). Photo: SAIC.

New faces share the chair at WiSA

Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA), the grassroots network aimed at promoting diversity, supporting men and women in their careers, and encouraging new talent into the sector, has announced the appointment of two new co-chairs.

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Teresa Garzon, a key account manager for Patogen, and Rowena Hoare, a senior research fellow at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture (IoA) will share leadership of the group as it enters a second year of activity.

The pair, who have more than 30 years’ combined experience of working in the aquaculture sector, take over from WiSA’s first co-chairs Charlotte Maddocks, health manager at Mowi, and Noelia Rodriguez, operations manager for Scottish Sea Farms’ Barcaldine hatchery.

Vaccine development

Garzon holds a PhD in biology and biochemistry and was previously a laboratory manager for Marine Harvest Scotland (now Mowi). Hoare joined the Aquatic Vaccine Unit at the Institute of Aquaculture in 2001, where she works closely with industry partners and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) to develop vaccines and processes that can help manage and enhance fish health.

The WiSA network – founded in partnership with SAIC - was launched on International Women’s Day 2019 to celebrate the role of women in the Scottish aquaculture sector, creating a platform for discussion and a network of support. As co-chairs, Garzon and Hoare will drive the future direction of the group, and amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the creation of a digital forum in lieu of face-to-face events.

Garzon said: “Creating balance and equality is an important step in creating positive and inspiring role models for the next generation of aquaculture talent.

“WiSA aims to show young women and men that there is a wide variety of career opportunities available, while also creating a platform for discussion. I’m proud to play a part in championing the role of women in one of Scotland’s most interesting and rewarding sectors.”

After securing a £50,000 investment – comprising of Scottish Government funding and sector sponsorships – WiSA launched an inaugural mentoring programme which concluded in April 2020. Thirty-eight mentors and mentees took part in the programme of one-to-one support, discussing career goals and aspirations, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities of life in aquaculture.

Diversity is important

Hoare said: “Aquaculture is a forward-thinking, innovative industry and diversity should be considered an important part of that. It’s crucial to keep that at the forefront of conversations around growth and the future of the sector, and networks like WiSA can be invaluable in providing the tools and skills to help women build successful careers.

“By creating a welcoming forum for advice and support, as well as providing workshops to help professional development and confidence-building, we hope to make a positive impact on the future of the sector.”

WiSA membership is open to anyone, of any gender, studying or working in Scottish aquaculture and is supported by SAIC as well as many of Scotland’s major seafood producers including Grieg Seafood, Cooke Aquaculture, the Scottish Salmon Company, Mowi, Loch Duart and Scottish Sea Farms.