Recognising and celebrating industry achievements and innovation
Three hundred and twenty guests attended the presentation evening for the Fishing News Awards 2019, which was held in the DoubleTree by Hilton Aberdeen Treetops hotel on Thursday, 16 May.
David Linkie reports (Photos: Rory Raitt)
The audience represented all sectors of the fishing industry, including fishermen and their families, boatbuilders/designers, equipment suppliers/service companies, fisheries scientists, port teams, fish retailers and processors.
Finalists and their guests, from as far apart as Cornwall, Shetland and Co Donegal, were able to meet and socialise with friends and colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere – one of the stand-out features of what was widely said to be an extremely enjoyable and successful evening.
Another was the constant stream of quick-fire jokes delivered by compère Des Clarke in his own unique style. These were well-received by guests and elicited continuous laughter from the audience.
Des Clarke maintained a sharp sense of humour while hosting the awards, adding asides at every opportunity, including frequent references to ‘jacketless Dave’, to ensure that the presentations were conducted in a lively manner.
Sponsored by Box Pool Solutions, the Fishmonger’s Company, Peterhead Port Authority, Seafish, Sunderland Marine and Definition, together with Lockers Trawlers, which sponsored the drinks reception, the Fishing News Awards 2019 heralded the achievements and developments that a forward-looking industry continues to deliver, but which all too often don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
The 14 categories of awards presented during the evening included two sets of joint winners and an Outstanding Contribution award, reflecting the extremely high standard of commitment, dedication and professionalism of each finalist, all of whom paid tribute to their fellow nominees.
During the course of the seafood meal, for which the ingredients (smoked mackerel and mackerel paté, langoustines and MSC-accredited hake) were sourced locally and supplied by AGD Duff Ltd of Aberdeen, in conjunction with Amity Fish and the Scottish Seafood Association, guests generously donated £4,000 to support the invaluable work of the Fishermen’s Mission.
The mission was represented on the night by senior superintendent Aubrey Jamieson from Shetland, together with his North East Scotland colleagues Miriam Kemp, Steve Murray and Kenny Brandie.
The evening ended with the surprise appearance of Erin and Stephen from Singers Secreto, who immediately had many of the audience on their feet and joining in with a succession of well-known songs.
Teamwork delivers Fishing News Awards
“It was brilliant to see people from so many different geographical areas, sectors of the industry and age groups united by their shared passion for, and commitment to, fishing together in one room,’ said David Linkie.
“Many existing friendships were strengthened and new ones forged on the night, when unity was the key feature.
“At a time when investment in the fishing industry, along with consumer demand for seafood sourced from well-managed and sustainable fisheries, are at unprecedented high levels, the Fishing News Awards provides an opportunity to recognise the commitment and skill of those who work endlessly towards this achievement.
“From fishermen to processors, boatyards to service providers, every part of this team collected awards on behalf of their colleagues in the industry, who nominated and selected them as representatives at the 2019 awards evening.
“Congratulations to all finalists and winners on the night, and also to everyone in the industry who quietly contributes to the success of the occasion in their own unique and always understated way.
“In every sense of the word, the Fishing News Awards is very much a team effort, starting with the readers who support Fishing News every week, and including all those in the industry who, in many different ways, help to generate the essential editorial news and feature copy.
“Your contribution to Fishing News, and therefore to the Fishing News Awards, is very much appreciated.
“Sincere thanks also go to everyone who found the time to make the initial nominations, without which the awards evening could not take place, and who subsequently voted online for the finalists shortlisted in each category.
“I would also like to thank every finalist, as well as those nominees who were not shortlisted this time round, for taking the Fishing News Awards in the spirit they are intended – namely, as a collective recognition of the successes and innovations being achieved by the industry as a whole.
“Thanks also to the sponsors of Fishing News Awards – Box Pool Solutions, Peterhead Port Authority, Seafish, Sunderland Marine, the Fishmonger’s Company and Definition, together with Lockers Trawlers which sponsored the drinks reception – and to everyone else who contributed to the evening in a variety of ways, not least Rachel Graham and Sue Loy for dealing with the huge amount of essential administration.”
Calmness and goodwill (and Scottish Power) overcome adversity
That the Treetops Hotel, as well as a fair chunk of west Aberdeen, was subject to a major electricity outage, just three hours before guests were scheduled to sit down for dinner at the Fishing News Awards 2019, was a totally unscripted experience.
The power failed and the lights went down in the early stages of a planned run-through of stage management, intended to ensure that the presentation of awards ran quickly and smoothly. Ironically, because Des Clarke had willingly agreed to arrive early, this was the first time that such pre-planning had been possible in four years. With mobile phone torches quickly being put to good use, together with low-level emergency lighting, arrangements on stage were finalised, albeit without sound-checks and walk-up music.
From the moment the lights went out, the hotel’s management team handled the probably unique challenge calmly and effectively. Within 20 minutes, confirmation was received that the problem was associated with a failure in a nearby substation.
Shortly after the head chef gave an assurance that, if power was restored by 7.30pm, the main course would be served on time, helped by the fact that the starter was a cold dish, Scottish Power indicated that normal service would resume by 8pm at the latest – possibly earlier.
As a number of guests were already in their rooms, and a growing number were accumulating in reception, unable to check in, this one was going to be nip and tuck.
Apart from the lack of cooking facilities, the other major issue was health and safety, as both the drinks reception and the awards themselves were scheduled to take place in internal function rooms without windows, and therefore without natural light.
Fortunately, it was a fine warm evening, meaning that if necessary, the drinks reception could be held in the main foyer and outside. This contingency plan was required, as hotel staff took the decision to move the drinks reception to an adjacent function room, one wall of which was mainly external windows, so providing enough natural light to meet all requirements in the short term.
Phased electrical supplies were restored between 7.10pm and 7.20pm, so the evening was back on course. Thank you to everyone for contributing to a successful outcome, and being fully understanding about the situation.
Unfortunately, the lack of power meant that only a few guests were able to view the video of Last of the Hunters, one of the tracks by the well-known Scottish band Skipinnish on their new CD Steer by the Stars, which was played to an audience for the first time at the Fishing News Awards.
Another unexpected consequence of the power failure only came to light two hours later, when shortly before I joined Des Clarke and Rachel Graham on stage for the awards, it was discovered that the jacket left on the back of my seat had been removed by a member of staff when they quickly checked that the dining room was ready to receive 320 guests when the lights came on again.
Although they remembered it being removed, it couldn’t be located immediately. The upside of this was that it provided Des Clarke with a recurring source of witticism during the awards, especially when one finalist arrived on stage to hand over ‘Dave’s jacket’, only to find that, although it fitted and almost matched, it belonged to someone else.
Demersal Fisherman of the Year
“It was a big surprise and an honour to be named Demersal Fisherman of the Year. All of the finalists would have been worthy winners. I feel very privileged to be a job that I enjoy. The awards highlighted the tremendous strength in depth of the fishing industry, which, all too often, is overlooked by many. The evening was extremely enjoyable, not least because it provided an opportunity to meet up with other fishermen I have met down the years, in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.”
Sponsor – Peterhead Port Authority
“The Fishing News Awards has quickly established itself as a key annual occasion to celebrate the success and achievements of the industry. It’s a relaxed and entertaining evening that offers a great chance to network and socialise, and hear what’s changing in this constantly evolving business.”
The Sustainability Award
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, Aberdeen University and Fisheries Innovation Scotland
“The fishing industry is increasingly enthusiastic about contributing to the science that underpins sustainable management. The SPFA and FIS had a clear vision of what might be achieved by self-sampling, but required assistance in identifying specific opportunities available to industry. The University of Aberdeen, a leader in fisheries science, was a natural partner for the project.
“Working together, the university and SPFA communicated with stakeholders, including fishers, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Marine Scotland, and reviewed approaches to self-sampling that are taken in other countries. From this, a wide range of specific sampling opportunities were identified for herring, mackerel and blue whiting. It was essential that each sampling opportunity was linked to tangible outcomes for stock management and business, so that the direct benefits to industry could be clearly communicated.
“One of the most exciting things that we learned during the project was that the fish processing industry holds extensive long-term data on the fat content of individual herring and mackerel. These biological data are extremely relevant to monitoring the feeding success and the overall physiological condition of the stocks. As a result of our study, we have a new PhD student at the University of Aberdeen, Susan Kenyon, who will be compiling and digitising these data over the next three years.
“The continuing partnership between the SPFA and the University of Aberdeen illustrates how universities can assist the fishing industry in delivering sustainable fishing while increasing knowledge about marine ecosystems.
“We have definitely come out of the ivory tower and down to the quayside to work alongside fishermen, who have unique insights by virtue of sampling the sea on a daily basis. The Fishing News Sustainability Award acknowledges the success of that partnership.” (Tara Marshall, Aberdeen University)
Steven Mackinson of the SPFA said: “The Fishing News Sustainability Award is a wonderful recognition that the industry can lay down credible plans for contributing to the science that underpins their businesses. It is a real feather in the cap for industry initiatives, and we are moving forward to put plans into action.”
Sponsor – The Fishmongers’ Company
“The Fishmongers’ Company was once again proud to be a part of the Fishing News Awards. This year we received a high calibre of candidates for the Sustainability Award, so it was truly a difficult decision nominating the winner. The night was filled with lots of laughs, but importantly, it showcased the work of those who work tirelessly throughout the year in some of the world’s toughest working conditions. We look forward to next year!”
Rob Clark – Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
“To be joint winners of the sustainability award is a real honour. It’s fantastic that the SIFCA officers and members have been recognised in this way. The achievements in the fishery were, however, only possible because of the hard work of many other people and partners, not least the fishermen and their representatives who, through their engagement and dialogue, made the transformation possible. The fishery shows what can be achieved if we work together, and I’m delighted that the award allows us to share that story with others.”
Trainee Fisherman of the Year
Gavin Burnett – Peterhead
“I’m delighted and extremely proud to have won this award. I’d like to thank my skipper John Buchan, who believed in me and has helped my progress immeasurably and taught me a lot since going aboard Ocean Endeavour. Thanks also to the tutors at the Scottish Maritime Academy for guiding me through the initial basic requirements, and most importantly giving my details to John Buchan. Thanks also to everyone who took the time to vote for me, and to Sunderland Marine for sponsoring this award.”
Sponsor – Sunderland Marine
“Everyone from the team at Sunderland Marine thoroughly enjoyed a very busy Fishing News Awards, celebrating some of the successes in the UK industry. We were delighted to be able to contribute towards the evening’s success by sponsoring the Trainee Fisherman of the Year Award.
“It was also great to see the particular focus on safety at this year’s awards. Safety onboard is of ever-increasing importance to our policy-holders, and Sunderland Marine is keen to promote and support safety and training initiatives whenever possible.”
HM Coastguard Lifesaver Award
The evening started with winchman Spike Hughes, on behalf of HM Coastguard, presenting a special Lifesaver Award to the owner and crew of the Brixham beamer Emilia Jayne BM 10 in recognition of the high standard of safety procedures they immediately followed when crewman Reegan Green was washed overboard by a freak wave during the early hours of 10 March, some 25 nautical miles off Salcombe.
The raw emotion communicated by winchman Spike Hughes as he spoke from the heart about the successful rescue was palpable, while an enthralled audience watched a short video of Reegan Green being recovered from the sea and airlifted to safety.
Spike Hughes said: “I’ve been doing search and rescue for nearly 20 years, and Reegan was the first fisherman I’ve taken out of the water who was conscious and alive – but he was also the first fisherman I took out of the water wearing a lifejacket.
“If you ask anyone who was involved in Reegan’s rescue, they all say the same thing – Reegan rescued himself because he chose to put on his lifejacket before going on deck. And his crew saved him by doing exactly what they’d trained to do. The vessel owner and skipper are also to be congratulated for making sure that everyone knew what to do in an emergency situation, in addition to wearing a lifejacket on deck.”
Young Fisherman of the Year
Ben Bengey – Ilfracombe
“I feel very honoured to have won this award. I definitely did not expect to win, as I was up against some very tough competition, who all had a lot going for them. It’s a really nice feeling to be recognised within the fishing industry for all the hard work that we put in over the season.
“Without the help of the people I have worked with over the years, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so I’d like to give them a massive thank-you for everything they have taught me and the experiences they have let me have. Hopefully I can teach my crew just as well as they taught me, and I hope this will inspire a few more young people into the industry.”
Sponsor – Seafish
“This award raises the profile of the young people who are eagerly carving a career in the fishing industry. Ben and the other three finalists, Colm, Ross and William, are inspirational, and demonstrate how rewarding a career in fishing can be, with training available to support almost all fishing career paths. They are all excellent role models who we wish all the best in the future.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
“I was delighted and very surprised to receive this award, which is a brilliant way to finish my fishing career. I have sailed with the late Norrie Bremner and his son Andrew for 45 years now, including 40 years on Opportune WK 171. Seine-netting is seldom, if ever, straightforward, but learning from one of the best in Norrie was a tremendous help. Sincere thanks to the crew of Opportune for putting my name forward for this award. They have been with me for the past 19 years, and made bringing the curtain down on my career a pleasurable experience – even though they kept it a well-hidden secret for long enough.”
“I think that the Fishing News Awards is a great night for the industry, bringing together people from all around UK to celebrate each other’s achievements throughout the year.
“I was very surprised to get the call to say that I had been nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and a bit overwhelmed by the thought that others felt that I deserved this award.
“I am in a very privileged position in that during my time as a fisherman, and through my work with Seafish, I have been fortunate to have been able to work with many very interesting people in the fishing industry throughout the length and breadth of the UK. It’s great to think that the industry feels that I merit receiving this award – a great accolade. I can only say thank you to Fishing News and the UK fishing industry.”
Sponsor – Box Pool Solutions
“The Fishing News Awards once again lived up to our expectations. The event provides a tremendous platform for the seafood sector to demonstrate all that makes it great. Well done Fishing News.”
£4K raised for Fishermen’s Mission
Guests attending the Fishing News Awards 2019 dinner participated in a generously supported prize draw to raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission.
When the name cards and donations placed in tumblers left on the tables were collected, the contents were quickly counted up by mission staff.
At the end of the awards, Des Clarke’s announcement that the draw had generated £4,000 was warmly applauded by everyone in the room.
After a presentation cheque was handed over to Aubrey Jamieson, Miriam Kemp drew four winners’ names out of a fish basket.
The first prize of one night’s bed and breakfast for two, generously donated by the hotel, was won by Carole Laignel from Lerwick.
Young Fisherman of the Year finalist Colm O’Brien made a quick return visit to the stage to collect a bottle of whisky donated by Fishing News.
Two more winners, Stephen West and Richard Barker, returned home to Peterhead and Whitby with Fishing News hoodies.
Port of the Year
Simon Brebner – Peterhead
“Firstly, congratulations go to all those who were nominated within this category. The focus on continuous improvement and innovation reflects very positively on the industry, and ensures that ports are robustly prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
“We are very humbled to be awarded Fishing Port of the Year 2018, an honour bestowed upon the port for the past two years, as a culmination of the huge team effort that has gone into completing the inner harbour deepening and new fishmarket project, as well as handling a record value of fish during that period. We cannot rest on our laurels, and will continue to seek innovative ways to improve customer service and value going forward for all our stakeholders.
“Our sincere thanks go to Fishing News for hosting the awards ceremony, and for the valuable input and knowledge that it shares throughout the industry.”
Shellfish Fisherman of the Year
Alasdair MacLean (static gear)
“I was delighted and overwhelmed to win Shellfish Fisherman of the Year (static gear) among very stiff competition. To me, it has always just been a way of life, more than a job, and I did not expect to be nominated. We had a fantastic night celebrating at the awards, and would like to thank Fishing News for making the evening possible.”
Jamie Clarke (mobile gear)
“It humbles me incredibly to be acknowledged by the industry with this award. I would like to thank my friends and family, West Coast Sea Products, and most importantly my crew, as without their efforts and support, the award would not have been possible.”
New Boats of the Year
David Gatt/Barry Reid – Audacious BF 83
“A fantastic night was topped off by receiving the Demersal Boat of the Year award. Macduff Shipyards designed and built a great vessel incorporating a number of new ideas for us, so thanks to everyone at the yard and all the suppliers who contributed to the end result. This award is dedicated to them, along with everyone who voted for Audacious. That such an advanced whitefish boat was delivered literally within sight of our homes speaks volumes for the commitment and expertise that continues to underpin the fishing industry in Scotland.”
Gary Williamson – Research LK 62
“We were very proud to win this award on what was a great night. Everyone associated with the vessel, including the designers, suppliers and boatyard, put a lot of thought, planning and effort into making the new Research as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Incorporating new technologies meant a fairly steep learning curve for all concerned, but one that is now proving to be beneficial. It has been very humbling to have the public vote for us, and this was very much appreciated.”
Shellfish (mobile gear)
John McAlister – Summer Rose OB 141
“From the onset of the Summer Rose project, the aim was to enhance the fishing safety, seakeeping capabilities and fuel economy of two similar-sized scallopers that have performed consistently well since being built over a decade ago. This was no easy task. That it has been accomplished owes much to the skill of designer Ian Paton, who worked diligently to include the innovative ideas put forward by skippers Ian McAlister and Ian Fletcher. Davie Simcox and EK Marine provided the requisite electronics and deck machinery expertise, while Parkol Marine Engineering ensured that the project came together well.”
Shellfish (static gear)
John and Nicola Affleck – Soph-Ash-Jay 3 LH 60
“To be nominated for Shellfish Boat of the Year was a great achievement, but to win was a privilege. It has always been our aim to keep up with modern vessels, but one underlying factor hasn’t changed: creeling is still as much hard work as ever. Building Soph-Ash-Jay 3 would not have been possible without the continuing strenuous efforts of the crews and shore teams, so thanks to all involved, and not least to Icelandic boatbuilders Trefjar Ltd. We would also like to thank all who voted for Soph-Ash-Jay 3, and also David Linkie and the Fishing News team for making a highly memorable awards evening possible.”
Fish Processor of the Year
Hodgson Fish Ltd, Hartlepool
“As a fifth-generation family business, Hodgson Fish is proud to win the Fish Processor of the Year award. This shows the commitment and pride our employees and management put into giving our many valuable customers the best seafood available.
“We will continue to promote the best of British and locally sourced sustainable seafood, and wish Fishing News continued success in its coverage of the UK fishing industry.”
Independent Fresh Fish Retailer of the Year
Stephen Bruce – Peterhead Fish Company
“We were thrilled, in only our third year of operation, to win the Independent Fresh Fish Retailer of the Year 2018. What pleased us most was that it was our customers who voted in large numbers to ensure our win, against some very good companies from all over the UK.
“When we started the Peterhead Fish Company, many of our competitors advised that I should forget that I was a fisherman at one time, now that I was on the other side of the fence, as the saying goes. However, the opposite is the case: we have kept a very close relationship with the vessels and fishermen we get our fish from, and I believe this ensures we always get the best-quality fish to our customers, which they really appreciate.”
Service Company of the Year
Mark Buchan – Jackson Trawls, Peterhead
“Jackson Trawls was delighted to be nominated and shortlisted for the new Service Company of the Year award. To win it on the night was extra special. We thought that the night was really well done, and would like to thank all those involved in organising it. Special thanks also to those who voted for us. It is very much appreciated, and meant a great deal to our staff, who deserve the recognition for being dedicated to trying to provide a first-class service to every customer.”