The event, hosted by Landward’s Arlene Stuart, marked the first time the awards were open to entrants outside the UK and organisers, 5m Publishing, were delighted by the geographical spread of those making the shortlists for the eight categories.
As awards MC Arlene Stuart commented: “It’s fantastic to be able to highlight the achievements of such a diverse and dynamic range of projects, initiatives and individuals from across the world here in Scotland tonight.”
First up was the Applied Research Breakthrough category, which was won by collaborative project that included input from Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms, the University of Stirling, BioMar and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and resulted in successfully closing the breeding cycle for captive ballan wrasse – which are increasingly used to pick sea lice off farmed salmon – for the first time.
The Sustainability Award was presented to Norwegian company Bioretur, for its pioneering method that allows fish waste, a potential polluter, from indoor farming systems to be converted into valuable fuel and fertiliser.
Hatch – the Bergen-based aquaculture accelerator which has helped to commercialise a number of cutting-edge, high tech aquaculture start-ups – won the International Impact award, trumping a number of aquaculture heavyweights, including Veramaris, to claim the prize.
Scottish Sea Farms pipped Panama-based Open Blue Sea Farms to the post to collect the Diversity Award, by making a compelling case that it had encouraged increasing numbers of women to reach senior roles in the company.
Following much debate by the judges the Animal Welfare award went to Marks & Spencer for their Welfare Outcome Measure Programme, which helps to improve the welfare of all farmed salmon, seabass, sea bream, shrimp and trout sourced by the UK retailer.
Two prizes were given in the Most Promising New Entrant category – one for a Manolin, whose software is proving increasingly popular with salmon producers since its launch last year; the other to a person, Clara McGhee – a Mowi farm technician, based on Muck – who has helped to inspire her colleagues through her work on one of the world’s most challenging farm sites and the wider industry through her writing.
The penultimate prize, the Technical Innovation award, went to XpertSea for their Growth Platform, which automates data collection and provides unprecedented insights so that shrimp farmers can make informed data-driven decisions and maximise profitability – it’s an invention that has been widely adopted by the shrimp sector in both Southeast Asia and the America’s since its launch in November.
Finally the people’s choice category – in which the public were given the choice to vote for five nominees whose attitude and achievements in the last 12 months have been particularly inspirational – was presented to Richard Darbyshire, Scottish Sea Farms’ regional production manager in Orkney who was nominated for transforming the performance of the sites the company took over in 2008, as well as adding new ones and investing heavily in the local community.
The event ended on a more poignant note with a tribute to William Dowds, one of the stalwarts of the Scottish aquaculture sector, who was applauded for the effort he has put into the industry over the last two decades and for attending what could be his final major aquaculture event.
“William has lived and breathed aquaculture for over a decade and it’s testament to his dedication to the sector that he’s present at the awards this evening,” said Fish Site editor Rob Fletcher.
He also thanked all the entrants and judges for their painstaking effort at the event.
The Fish Site is now very much looking forward to the 2020 Aquaculture Awards, which will take place at Aquaculture UK, in Aviemore, on 19-21 May.