Back in 1999, while the world was fretting over the ‘Y2K’ bug, a new trade body to promote the seafood industry in Scotland was just getting off the ground – Seafood Scotland.
Next year, the organisation, which was set up by industry to increase the value of the return to the Scottish seafood sector through trade marketing promotion and business development support, celebrates its 25th anniversary. With the prestigious Responsible Seafood Summit also heading to Scotland next year, 2024 looks set to be a busy one for the organisation – and Jeni Adamson, Seafood Scotland’s new industry engagement manager.
After studying marine biology at Stirling University, Jeni obtained a master’s degree in estuarine and coastal science and management at Hull University. She then spent six years working with sector skills council Lantra, engaging with the aquaculture industry in Scotland and promoting the sector to potential new entrants, before making the switch to Seafood Scotland.
Jeni soon found her sea legs, and by day two in her new role she was out on a boat trawling for langoustines on the west coast of Scotland.
“My role may involve attending meetings and events,” Jeni told Fishing News, “but nothing beats getting out and about on the water. That’s how you really learn about the industry and get to know the people whose skills and passion have put Scottish seafood on a world stage.”
Jeni joined Largs-based langoustine fisherman Ian Wightman, a well-known face in the industry, on his 10m boat Eilidh Anne GK 2. “Ian explained how the coastal waters off Largs are a fantastic place to catch premium langos. The seabed is full of valleys and gullies, and the sediment gets washed down, releasing more nutrients into the water.”
Jeni’s next trip was to Fraserburgh. “Over 200 fishing boats are registered at Fraserburgh, and the harbour area was a hive of activity for the early morning market. Although it’s known as ‘the shellfish port’, fish are landed daily, selling almost half a million boxes a year, including whiting, haddock, sole, mackerel and herring.
“I was able to walk round before the bidding started and chat with the buyers about the catch. The auction was great to watch, and I was amazed how fast the boxes were whisked out of the building afterwards. Definitely worth getting out of bed early!
“It was fascinating to spend time with the Fraserburgh Harbour leadership team – harbour master Thomas Boyle, superintendent John Murison and development manager Pam Neri. They talked me through their ‘Masterplan’ to develop the harbour over the next 20 years.
“The main challenge is the current size of the harbour. It needs to be wider and deeper so bigger boats can access it safely. That makes Fraserburgh much more attractive commercially. They also plan to install a lifting mechanism so vessels can be removed from the water for repairs.”
Another aspect of Jeni’s role is community engagement, with children and young people as a key audience.
The organisation’s Our Seafood in Schools programme follows a successful pilot in schools within the key fishing communities of Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and sees Jeni leading a series of workshops in primary schools around the country.
Aimed at children aged 8 to 10, the sessions – run by a professional chef – are geared to encouraging them to learn more about fish and shellfish and taste some species they may not have encountered.
Every pupil who attends the workshop leaves with some easy-to-make recipes and a few ingredients to cook at home, including tinned mackerel – thus making them more familiar with different types of fish.
“We encourage them to speak to parents and guardians about what they learned and to consider fish and shellfish options when buying groceries. We’re in the process of expanding the workshop for schools in the Central Belt too,” said Jeni.
“Our next step is to deliver workshops for secondary schools – we’re in the early stages of organising a pilot of that, seeing how it fits into the curriculum and careers planning.”
Jeni then headed to Oban High School for an Aquaculture Day careers fair, where around 600 school pupils gathered to learn more about the wide range of career paths available in the sector. “It was such an inspiring day. I learned a lot from just listening to the questions from the young people. They are our future, so it’s important we get them engaged with the sector.”
Back at her desk, Jeni’s attention is already turning to October next year when the Responsible Seafood Summit will be held in St Andrews. Seafood Scotland is co-hosting the event with the team from Global Seafood Alliance – the first time it has ever been held in the UK.
“This will be a landmark event for Scottish seafood, with eminent industry speakers, field trips to showcase key species, a golf competition – it is St Andrews, after all! – plus lots of opportunities to network.
“We will have a strong focus on sustainability, looking at reducing waste and using more parts of the fish, plus segments on automation and innovation – think alternative fuels, for example.”
Date for your diary
Responsible Seafood Summit, 21-24 October, 2024, in St Andrews
To join Seafood Scotland’s database to receive updates on the event, please email: email@example.com – putting ‘Responsible Seafood Summit’ in the subject box.
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.
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