Oban fish farmer wins M&S award

A fish farm manager for Scottish Sea Farms has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to sustainable farming and crowned as Young Producer at this year’s M&S Farming for the Future awards.
Andrew MacLeannan, 27, Fiunary, Oban won the award for his role in managing the supply of Lochmuir salmon to M&S, as well as for his ongoing commitment to preserving the local marine environment.
Scottish Sea Farms has also been awarded the Rural Communities Award for its Heart of the Community Trust (HCT) set up in 2011, which helps support local charitable and community initiatives.
To date the HCT has distributed more than £500,000 to a variety of different causes and has benefited around 27,000 people living in largely rural, coastal communities.
The awards were presented at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh on Thursday, June 23.
MacLeannan, based in Fiunary, Oban, started working for SSF just four years ago as a trainee in fish husbandry and has quickly worked his way through the ranks.
His ambitious attitude has seen him eagerly grasp every training opportunity available to him, and in a short space of time he has also gained a variety of professional development qualifications, including those in fish health, fish feed and nutrition, and business management.
He has also collaborated with other farm managers in the area and a specialist net company to secure the production of a uniquely designed net and weighting system, which enables them to be cleaned easily and thoroughly.
This has ensured that hygiene among his fish is as high as possible and minimises the risk of fish infection.
Despite the challenging location of the farm and potential biological threats posed by other sea species in the area, the judges were impressed with his strong understanding of fish biology and that his creation of a safe and productive environment in which salmon can thrive.
They were also impressed with his passion for the industry and his dedication to learning and professional development.
M&S Farming for the Future is a programme of initiatives which champions sustainability and innovation.
The programme is designed to help farmers identify opportunities for improvement, increase their profitability and provide a sustainable supply chain that can continue to deliver quality and innovation for the long term.
Steve Mclean, M&S Head of Agriculture & Fisheries, said: ‘We are delighted to honour Andrew as one of this year’s Farming for the Future award winners.
‘Every year it becomes even harder to choose the winners, as each individual on our shortlist has gone the extra mile to set them apart from the competition.
‘I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Andrew and his team for the forward thinking approach and dedication to farming excellence.
‘His proactive attitude and leadership skills make him a deserving winner.  The commitment to innovation, best practice and future-proof farming is incredibly impressive and is testament to the effort and drive he has shown.’
Victoria McDowell, SSF commercial manager, said after winning the Rural Communities award: ‘This is great recognition for a very special scheme. HCT focuses on the 27,000 plus people it has benefited more so than the sums of cash donated and we are delighted to able to help local communities that sometimes find difficulty securing funding from other sources.
‘A lot of the HCT projects require a small financial input but give a much greater reward to the people involved and improve day to day life in our communities.
‘This award is an achievement for the whole team at SSF as every individual has the ability to influence the success of the scheme and we will ensure it goes from strength to strength.’
Picture: Victoria McDowell and Andrew MacLeannan, both of Scottish Sea Farms