Young Fisherman of the Year

Sponsored by Seafish   

This category will reward a fisherman, under 25 years old at the end of 2019 and based in the UK or Ireland, who has made a clear commitment to their fishing industry. Skills, determination, leadership ability and adaptability to changes in today’s industry are all important qualities.

**This category does not have a public vote. Instead, it will be judged by a panel drawn from the fishing industry, using all supporting evidence provided through the nomination process.**


David Clark, Reliance BF 800

David always said he would never be a fisherman, but one trip with his father in the summer holidays changed that, and he was hooked. His father says he was hard on David, starting him as a cook for 2-3 years before he progressed to the fishroom, then net man, the engineroom and engineer. For the past two years he has been in the wheelhouse, learning about the fishing grounds. David skippered for the first time this year, when instead of taking the easy option of fishing close to the harbour, he headed 360 miles west to Rockall, landing over 500 boxes. He asked to go straight back out again, making for St Kilda and after seven days, landed 370 boxes. David has now made eight trips as skipper, and on each one he has earned the respect of his father and the crew. On his last trip [at the time of writing], he was fishing 80 miles west of Shetland when one of the crew had a seizure and collapsed. David called on his training and put out a pan pan Mayday call, resulting in the Coastguard dispatching a helicopter to transfer the man to hospital. He made a full recovery and David was praised by the doctors for his actions.
David is helping his father with plans for their new vessel Reliance 3, currently being built at Parkol Marine, and has come up with several good ideas that are being incorporated into the build.

No voting is required – this category will be decided by a panel of industry judges.

Luke Geddes, Faithful FR 129

Luke left school at 16 to pursue a career in fishing. He gained a berth on the Fraserburgh pair-trawler Faithful FR 129. He took three months off fishing in 2018 and spent the time at Jackson Trawls learning how to splice, mend and gain experience working with nets. This gave him an excellent grounding and he was able to prove his worth on return to the vessel, as his skill in splicing Dyneema rope was invaluable. He has also been given sole charge of working the fishroom on several occasions. The skipper saw further potential in Luke and allowed him the opportunity to study for his Class 2 Deck Fishing exams in September 2019. Luke was an excellent student who worked hard while at college and gained good passes in all exams in December 2019. He is on course to complete his Class 2 certificate of competency in record time when he has achieved the required sea time, which will make him one of the youngest skippers the college has ever had.

No voting is required – this category will be decided by a panel of industry judges.

Michael Brendan MacLeod, Grianan Òir CY 155

Michael first went fishing aged eight, on his father’s prawn trawler, Aquarius CY34. By 13 he was out at every opportunity he could get. By 15 he was proficient with the wire and rope splicing; by 16 he was a dab hand with a needle. Michael left school at 16 to work with his father on their new boat Grianan Òir. They found it difficult to secure a continuous crew while based between Barra and Stornoway and, in summer 2019, decided to relocate to the North Sea to access a greater availability of crew and eliminate the transport issues to the Western Isles. However, within a week of relocating, Michael’s mother started treatment for cancer and his father had to go ashore to look after her and Michael’s brother. Without any hesitation, Michael took over the running of the family boat, working hard and maintaining the family’s income during extremely trying times. His short time in the North Sea was boosted by a few knowledgeable skippers who provided him with advice and more experienced deckhands who he had the privilege of sailing with. He listened to them, which is a great trait to have in a skipper, and they helped him focus on the right things and make sound decisions. His quest for knowledge and experience, coupled with his island upbringing have provided him with the drive necessary to succeed in an extremely challenging industry.
Michael’s mother sadly died in January, but he would like to make her proud of his work and career as a fisherman.

No voting is required – this category will be decided by a panel of industry judges.

Keil Spouse, Tranquillity S LH 1

Keil has been fishing since he left school. His father and both grandfathers have always owned their own boats, so fishing is literally in his blood. He got his skipper’s licence in 2016 age 20, and he was awarded student of the year at Aberdeen College. This an achievement in itself, as he suffers from dyslexia and dyspraxia.
He now skippers the Tranquillity S alone, have been handed the reins by his father a year ago, and it had its most successful year in his hands.
Keil ensures all crew have safety training and courses up to date, along with keeping the boat in its best working order, overseeing repairs and maintenance. He dedicates his life at sea and at home to making the best of his and his crews’ careers. Some of his crew he is teaching from scratch, as fishing is new to them. His success and the hours he commits make his family very proud.

No voting is required – this category will be decided by a panel of industry judges.

Stephen West, Westro PD 20

Stephen has successfully passed his ticket and is now skippering the Westro. At just 20, he has a reputation for being smart and forward thinking, “always is three steps ahead.” He is expected to excel in his career as a skipper and go on to do some amazing things. Stephen is a great role model for young fishermen, and he motivates those around him to do well. He was recently seen in ‘Fish Town’, where he was a great ambassador for the industry.

No voting is required – this category will be decided by a panel of industry judges.

Max Wightman, Georgie Girl LT 1042

Max has been fishing since the age of six. He has shown real achievement at the age of 19, going through Whitby Fishing School, passing 16.5m skipper’s ticket and his yacht masters, all within 18 months of leaving school. He now skippers the family owned 10m Georgie Girl, twin trawling from Lowestoft, “which is a great achievement for someone so young.”

No voting is required – this category will be decided by a panel of industry judges.

To see other category shortlists, click here

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