WiSA in search for new supporter

Cabinet Minister Mairi Gougeon addresses the WiSA meeting at Aquaculture UK

A ground-breaking Scottish organisation set up to encourage and develop women in the aquaculture sector is looking for a lifeline after its founding body has had to step back.

Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) was founded by the CEO of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and a group of volunteers from industry, academia and government. It carries out a range of activities, including mentoring programmes, the WiSA Awards, events and training and online knowledge-sharing.

Up until now, SAIC has administered WiSA, using in-house expertise and staff time, with financial support from industry and government.

Last year SAIC’s own main source of finance, the Scottish Funding Council, announced it would cease funding SAIC. Under a new package of support announced this week, SAIC’s funding has been secured but at a more limited scale, and it will operate with a much narrower focus – meaning that it will no longer be able to provide admin support for WiSA.

At a session held yesterday as part of the Aquaculture UK trade show in Aviemore, WiSA issued a call to any potential sponsors. In a flier issued at the conference, WiSA said: “WiSA is looking for a new host organisation to fund or fund-raise in order to administer and deliver our key initiatives alongside our advisory group. If you share our vision and passion, then please come and speak with us about how you can help make sure WiSA continues to exist.”

In a video address to the WiSA session, Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, said that she wanted to see support for WiSA’s work and added: “The Scottish Government is committed to working with you in future.”

She also said: “I have met many inspiring women in aquaculture… but there are still barriers to entry.”

Heather Jones, Chief Executive of SAIC, said that the minister’s words indicated the level of support for WiSA, in the Scottish Government as well as in industry.

SAIC will be holding meetings through June and July with prospective WiSA host organisations, and hopes to identify a new host organisation in August, with the handover of responsibilities taking place in September.

Heather Jones, Chief Executive, SAIC

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