A Meridian Salmon Group employee has been recognised as a pioneering figure in Scotland’s thriving fish farming industry.
In a special edition of the industry’s most respected publication, Fish Farmer, Paul Irving named among a selection of the ‘founding fathers’ of the sector.
Paul who has been in the industry for almost 35 years is currently the Freshwater Manager at Meridian Salmon Group’s operation in Cumbria and began his career with the firm in 1977.
Speaking of Scotland’s salmon farming industry and the sometimes unappreciated role it plays in the country’s economic fortunes Paul said: “I find salmon fascinating in their own right and it is such a long cycle, there are so many different challenges, but this is also more rewarding.
“The job has given me the chance to live and work in a fantastic environment in the place I grew up in and like the remote areas of Scotland; it is also an area where there are very few good jobs or options for the locals.
“I believe that the most important people in the industry are the husbandry staff who are in daily contact with the fish and their environment.”
When asked about opportunities in the industry, Paul said: “I think that negative publicity is affecting the industry and people don’t realise that it’s a fantastic business to get into.
“There are a huge range of roles, and it can be quite technical because we rely so heavily on water quality, but the husbandry element is probably the most important.
“Even though we now have support from cameras and computer systems, it’s vital to keep in close contact with the fish.”
Managing Director Mark Warrington said they are extremely proud to have two employees – Colin Blair, the firm’s Seawater Director is also named – featured in Fish Farmer report.
He said: “I have always said that our staff are the best in the business, so it is not surprise to have two of our senior mangers acknowledged among the most highly regarded professionals in our industry.”
Rob Fletcher, Editor of the Fish Farmer said: “This special issue features interviews with some of the longest-serving people in the UK’s salmon farming sector and helps illustrate the rich and varied careers that aquaculture has to offer.
“The dedication of individuals such as these has also helped to ensure that fish welfare remains a priority and that Scottish salmon retains its premium as a world-class product.
“It is thanks to the innovation, determination and hard work of these elder statesmen of the industry that salmon farming has managed to grow so successfully and so sustainably in such a short space of time.”
Meridian Salmon Group is one of the top five salmon farming companies in Scotland, employing 350 people particularly in small communities in Shetland, Orkney and the West Coast.
The firm operates at 61 sea sites and 19 freshwater sites across Scotland and Cumbria and is currently developing its new facility in the former Lexmark building in Rosyth, which will be the biggest processing plant in the UK.
The company’s investment is particularly crucial in Scotland, where it helps supports an industry that directly employs 2124 people – and thousands more in the salmon supply chain.
In particular, hundreds of jobs and fragile rural, island economies are dependent on the salmon farming industry, which is now Scotland’s biggest food exporter and worth £1.4bn to the Scottish economy in the last four years.