Awards highlight ‘unsung heroes’ of aquaculture

Editorial Staff

This judges shifted their focus to the so-called ‘support services,’ acknowledging their crucial role.

Two Scottish Sea Farms employees and a Mowi worker have been recognized at the Aquaculture Awards 2024 for their essential behind-the-scenes contributions to animal welfare in the aquaculture industry.

Traditionally, these awards have focused on front-line workers in salmon farming. This year, however, the judges shifted their focus to the so-called ‘support services,’ acknowledging their crucial role.

Dr. Ralph Bickerdike, Head of Fish Health at Scottish Sea Farms, was named ‘Unsung Hero’ for his work linking nutrition to fish health.

Dr. Ralph Bickerdike, Head of Fish Health at Scottish Sea Farms. Photo: SSF

Bickerdike holds a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from Plymouth University and a PhD in Biology/Biochemistry from the University of St Andrews. His career began as a Post-Doctoral Researcher with the Fish Muscle Research Group at St Andrews, where he transitioned from academia to the aquaculture sector, joining feed giant BioMar. Over 12 years, he contributed to the development of several leading fish feed products.

In 2016, Scottish Sea Farms recruited Dr. Bickerdike to bring his expertise in-house. According to Managing Director Jim Gallagher, Dr. Bickerdike’s passion for nutrition and fish health was evident from the outset.

“From my first meeting with Ralph it was clear how much he cared about nutrition, fish health and helping farmers do the very best by the livestock in their care, said Gallagher. “I felt he could make an even bigger difference working directly for us, and without doubt he has.”

Bickerdike now leads a team of 13, including four in-house vets, and his responsibilities include innovations in cleaner fish use, freshwater treatments, and water quality surveillance, as well as establishing a secure supply of Scottish broodstock. Recently, he helped deliver a new incubation unit to control welfare factors early in the fish lifecycle.

Mowi’s Silvia Viale. Photo: LinkedIn

David Lipcsey, IT Engineer at Scottish Sea Farms, was also honored at the Aquaculture Awards 2024, being named joint winner of the Rising Star category alongside Mowi’s Silvia Viale.

Lipcsey was recognized for his role in integrating systems from ex-Grieg Seafood Shetland following its acquisition in 2021. His projects included updating hatchery IT infrastructure, transitioning farms to individual feeding systems, and integrating networks of two processing facilities.

Colin Kupris, IT Operations and Infrastructure Leader at Scottish Sea Farms, praised Lipcsey for managing multiple complex projects with calm efficiency.

David Lipcsey. Photo: Scottish Sea Farms

“It wasn’t just the complexity of the projects completed that impressed. It was also the sheer number of competing projects that David coped with, all in his customary unflappable manner,” he said.

“Every new farm, barge, facility and face – David has been our ‘boots on the ground’ for each. I think just about every new colleague will have interacted with him at some stage of the transition process. Quite simply, without him we couldn’t have achieved what we have.”

Former Wester Ross Fisheries boss Gilpin Bradley was given the award for Outstanding Contribution to aquaculture in Aviemore last night during an evening when the achievements of a wide variety of individuals and companies were celebrated.


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