Sixteen-year-old Ross MacDonald from Fort William has beaten off stiff competition to become the first apprentice in a new scheme run by Scotland’s largest aquaculture company.
Ross has started work at the company’s Invasion Bay site and will move to Loch Leven in three months. His training will encompass a wide range of skills including boat handling, fish health, feed management and finance.
Managing Director of Marine Harvest Scotland Alan Sutherland welcomed Ross to the company saying: “We’re delighted to give Ross the chance to learn all about salmon farming – an industry which provides jobs in some of the most fragile rural economies in Scotland. All too often young people in these areas are forced to move away to get work so we’re delighted to be giving them a chance to remain through this apprenticeship scheme.
“This is a great opportunity to develop a career in a successful and thriving industry. The image of fish farming as an unskilled labouring job is very out-dated – today’s fish farmers are highly skilled and Ross and our other apprentice will gain both skills and qualifications that are greatly in demand both here and across the world.”
Ross said: “I’m really looking forward to the challenge and I’m thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to become Marine Harvest’s first apprentice.”
Aquaculture is one of Scotland’s newer industries, developed in the 1970s in the Western Highlands. But as the early pioneers reach retirement age, Marine Harvest Scotland is keen to train a new generation of fish farmers.
Ross will shortly be joined by another apprentice working in the North area of salmon farms.
Marine Harvest Scotland is the largest salmon farming company in Scotland, with four hatcheries, four freshwater loch sites and 30 sea farms spread across the Western Highlands and Islands.
In 2009 the company announced a major expansion to meet increasing demand and has recently opened two new farms in the Western Isles. A new £16 million smolt rearing plant is currently being built at Lochailort, the original home of farmed salmon in Scotland.
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