Event News

Aquaculture Awards 2024 winners announced

A total of 13 prizes were awarded to companies and individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to aquaculture over the past year.

Aquaculture UK Awards 2024 Winners Group-2(1)
Aquaculture UK Awards 2024 winners group
May 17, 2024

The winners of this year’s Aquaculture Awards were announced at a celebratory dinner at Aquaculture UK attended by a capacity crowd from across the sector. The event, held at the Macdonald Resort in Aviemore and hosted by Fred MacAulay, saw a total of 13 prizes awarded to companies and individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to aquaculture over the past year.

The first award of the night was for Rising Star, and two young people in very different roles shared the honors: Scottish Sea Farms IT engineer David Lipcsey, praised for his “technical skills and can-do attitude”, and Mowi regional health manager Silvia Viale, singled out for her "hard work, passion and resilience".

The Collaboration award went to Ace Aquatec and Tiny Fish for their joint mission to reduce waste and enhance the circular economy by converting unviable fish from the freshwater stage into a safe ingredient for pet food and fish oil.

Dundee-based Ace Aquaculture also scooped the Innovation award in a very competitive field, impressing the judges with its A-Biomass camera that tracks fish and identifies health and welfare problems using advanced AI and machine learning.

The Sustainability award was won by net supplier W&J Knox, which has pioneered predator netting that is designed to be easier to recycle, diverting nets and rope from landfill and helping customers achieve the most environmentally sound disposal method for their end-of-life gear.

Mowi Scotland stood out among many deserving entries in the Community Initiative category, with the judges deciding the scale of its support for local causes – £633,000 in one year alone – gave it the edge over the competition.

Thomas Begg of Bakkafrost Scotland, described by colleagues as a true Hebridean Hero, was named Farmer of the Year for his decades of devotion to the sector, his inspirational leadership and his championing of young talent in the company.

Bakkafrost Scotland also won the coveted Animal Welfare award for its Welfare Awareness program, launched last year and aimed at educating farm teams about fish health, biological challenges, monitoring and the importance of identifying trends.

The hotly contested Aquaculture Supplier of the Year award was won by Mull-based Inverlussa Marine Services, a family-run company which, with its investment in boats, technology and people, has been pivotal to the growth of the salmon farming sector.

The Best New Start-up was Chilean company ChucaoTech which has developed ground-breaking nanobubble technology to improve fish health and minimize environmental impact by making permanent oxygenation at farms feasible and affordable.

Ralph Bickerdike, head of Fish Health and Welfare at Scottish Sea Farms, was recognized as this year’s Unsung Hero, with the judges citing his unwavering commitment to fish welfare and his contribution to more than 20 collaborative research projects, as well as being a trusted and respected ambassador for the entire sector.

Another much-respected aquaculture figure is John Holmyard of Offshore Shellfish, who won the Best Producer of the Year award. John has not only pioneered offshore mussel farming, he has also engaged with government, industry, funders, academics and other aquaculture experts to help navigate post-Brexit challenges and further the sector for all involved.

For the Judges Special Recognition award, created to acknowledge the efforts of a particular company or individual, the judging panel felt Sarah Riddle, of Northern Light Consulting, merited the accolade for her exceptional work across the aquaculture sector over many years. Hailed as a one-woman dynamo, her roles have ranged from aquaculture consultant, SAIC business engagement supremo, innovator, and auditor, to educator and mentor.

Finally, this year’s prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry was awarded to Gilpin Bradley of Wester Ross fame. A stalwart of salmon farming, Gilpin is seen as one of aquaculture’s greatest advocates and a ‘go-to voice of reason’ whose contribution to Scottish salmon’s premium reputation has been considerable.

Aquaculture Awards organiser Diversified Communications paid tribute to all the award entries, and to the sponsors, including Scale AQ, UK Agri-Tech Centre, Poseidon, BioMar, Seafood Scotland, OptoScale, Institute of Aquaculture, Mowi, Fish Farmer, Vonin Scotland, Crown Estate Scotland, and Cargill.

Event director Cheri Arvonio said, “Congratulations to all the amazing winners, and to all those shortlisted too, in what has been an incredible Aquaculture Awards, with a record number of entries. The standard as always was very high, making the judges’ task difficult, but reflecting the wealth of talent, initiative, dedication and achievement so evident throughout the sector. We are proud to be able to recognize and celebrate such excellence.”

Here is the final list of award winners.