REPRESENTATIVES from across the aquaculture industry in Scotland are meeting today to launch Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA), which aims to encourage more women to join the sector.
Aquaculture professionals from industry, academia and the public sector, gathering at Stirling University, will celebrate International Women’s Day by pledging to support women in the industry.
The initiative follows a survey conducted by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) which revealed backing for a women’s group, with 73 per cent of respondents, both male and female, noting their interest in joining.
The group will be industry led and co-chaired by Charlotte Maddocks, health manager at Mowi, and Noelia Rodriguez, operations manager at Scottish Sea Farms.
It will also include Rowena Hoare and Sophie Fridman, both senior research fellows at the Institute of Aquaculture, as well as Robin MacLean, policy manager at Marine Scotland. Mary Fraser, head of skills and talent at SAIC, will act as group secretary.
Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, who led the campaign to creat WiSA and will sit on its leadership group, said: ‘The creation of WiSA is an incredibly exciting and important step for aquaculture in Scotland.
‘Our aim is to raise awareness of the opportunities available to women in the industry, encourage more female participation at all levels in the sector, and provide support to those entering or already working within aquaculture.
‘The industry is full of potential; however, if it isn’t attracting the best people from across the talent pool, it’s unlikely to fulfil that.’
The WiSA group will host a series of networking events during the year at the major salmon, trout and shellfish producing regions of Scotland, featuring with special guest speakers.
The group will also launch a facebook networking group and an online platform, hosted on SAIC’s website.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: ‘I am delighted to welcome the formation of Women in Scottish Aquaculture on International Women’s Day.
‘We are fortunate to have so many talented women working in our farmed fish sector, bringing a wealth of expertise, knowledge and skills to businesses all over Scotland and particularly in remote rural areas.
‘I hope that WiSA will now help to encourage more young women with science, technology, engineering and maths related degrees and qualifications to take up careers in aquaculture businesses.’
For more information visit www.scottishaquaculture.com.
Picture: WiSA steering group members Heather Jones, Mary Fraser, Charlotte Maddocks, Sophie Fridman, and Rowena Hoare outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday