Two hundred and twenty-five guests attended the gala presentation evening for the Fishing News Awards 2022 to celebrate the achievements and innovation of people, companies and organisations across the UK and Irish fishing industry
After two years in which the awards had to be celebrated virtually, 12 May saw the long-awaited return of the Fishing News Awards as a live event. How great to be back in person, and to have the opportunity to see old friends and familiar faces once again, and celebrate all that is good about our industry.
The gala awards evening was held at the new venue of The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen. Following the drinks reception, sponsored by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, guests were served a superb three-course meal, featuring locally caught premium seafood generously supplied by Seafood Scotland. Acclaimed Scottish comedian Des Clarke then took the stage to entertain guests, after which the winners of the 2022 awards were revealed.
A record number of voters helped to decide this year’s awards, driven in part by enthusiastic support for the most important part of our industry – the young fishermen and trainees. This has been wonderful to see. We were especially grateful for the support provided to our young finalists by Sunderland Marine and Fishing into the Future, which enabled them to attend the awards, and to have a memorable day of extra events and experiences as part of their trip.
With winners in 10 categories this year, the Fishing News Awards aim to celebrate all aspects of an industry that draws its strength from the collective achievements of its many parts – fishermen, boatbuilders, service companies, ports, processors and more. The large number of nominations this year demonstrate the talent and dedication across the industry, and our winners stand as representatives of extremely strong fields. The unprecedented level of voting demonstrates a level of engagement that shows we are a real community, rather than a disparate group of private businesses working in isolation.
As ever, celebrations were tempered by memories of those whose lives have been cut short, both at sea and ashore. Sadly, in spite of huge advances in our safety culture, we are reminded all too often about the true price of fish, paid not just by those lost at sea, but by families left ashore to cope without loved ones and breadwinners. The industry’s toll on mental health has been exacerbated by the financial, social and personal impacts of Covid-19. We were therefore very pleased, once again, to welcome the Fishermen’s Mission as our designated charity for these awards.
Our grateful thanks go to everyone who helped to make this year’s awards possible, and particularly to our sponsors: the Fishing Industry Safety Group, the Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust, Peterhead Port Authority, the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association, Seafish, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Sunderland Marine.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to make nominations and place votes in this year’s awards, and to all the shortlisted candidates for taking part. Our congratulations go to all of this year’s winners – and also to the many very deserving runners-up.
We hope that the Fishing News Awards 2022 have offered a respite from the challenges currently being faced by everyone in the fishing industry around the UK and Ireland – and a reminder of its continuing resilience and resolve, in the face of all the odds. Whilst we are all too aware of the many pressures the industry continues to face, the awards offer a chance to celebrate the best of our industry, and provide confidence for a bright and prosperous future.
Meet this year’s winners…
Over 10m Fisherman of the Year
Winner: Craig McGowan
Sponsor: Peterhead Port Authority
Craig McGowan says that being crowned Over-10m Fisherman of the Year is recognition of the community spirit of his hometown of Kirkcudbright in southwest Scotland.
“I’m from a close-knit town. You’d expect someone from a bigger fishing community to win something like this, but it shows just what this small town is all about,” he told Fishing News.
He described winning as ‘a good feeling’. “It’s good recognition for our company as well. They put me through my tickets and put their trust in me. It’s recognition for them, and the hard work that they’ve done too.”
Craig, who skippers the Osprey BA 4, fishing predominately for queenies, and scallops in the summer, said of the ceremony: “I don’t often get dressed up. I feel comfortable when I’m sitting on my boat wearing my flip-flops and shorts, but when you’re going to a special event like the awards, you need to make some kind of effort.”
There is another potential bonus for Craig in winning the award, which is now proudly on display in the family home. “My wife has made me put it up in the living room,” he said.
“I’ll keep reminding her that I’m an award-winner now. It might get me out of doing the dishes!”
Peterhead Port Authority said: “We were delighted to renew our sponsorship of one of the Fishing News Awards categories. It is important to take time to recognise the tremendous efforts that go into making the fishing industry the success that we can all share. This includes all participants, and not just those nominated and recognised.
“It was even better that this celebration could again take place in person, and an evening of good company, food, networking and entertainment was enjoyed.”
Under 10m Fisherman of the Year
Winner: Ashley Mullenger
“I’m buzzing,” said Ashley Mullenger from Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. “To be honest, I was really overcome with emotions. Just to be nominated was enough,” she told Fishing News.
“Being nominated was like acceptance into a man’s industry, to be recognised as a woman with credibility in a man’s world. That was enough. I didn’t need any more than that.”
Ashley described the awards evening as ‘lovely’. “The food was excellent,” she said. “I could have eaten 17 of those starters.” Like Isla Gale, winner of
Trainee Fisherman of the Year, Ashley described the accolade as ‘a win for women’. “Isla is great. She’s definitely one to watch for the future.”
Ashley, who has now been commercially fishing for over three years, said she wanted to thank ‘the whole of the fishing industry and everybody who voted for me’.
“I want to thank the people that support me, encourage me. I want to thank Nige, my skipper, for believing in me. I couldn’t have done any of this without him, and the wider community here in Wells-next-the-Sea.”
Young Fisherman of the Year
Winner: Rowan Davies
Twenty-five-year-old Rowan Davies from Dunbar said he was ‘shocked’ when his name was announced as the winner of Young Fisherman of the Year.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he told Fishing News.
“I was just sitting there with a total blank face. I just couldn’t believe what had happened. My mum and that were all cheering – I’ve got it all on video, and have plenty of photos.”
Rowan, who fishes on the family vessel Spitfire, a traditional prawn trawler, described the awards ceremony as ‘an absolutely fantastic night’. “Instantly, when I walked into the hotel, I was like – wow!
“The food was absolutely outstanding, and comedian Des Clarke was brilliant – really, really funny.”
With his winning trophy already on display in the family trophy cabinet, Rowan said: “I’d like to thank my father and my grandad. Especially my grandfather for getting me into the industry and getting me into the job, and getting behind me in my whole career so far.”
He described being nominated for a Fishing News Award as ‘an absolute honour, from start to finish’.
“Hopefully it encourages more younger people to come into the industry as well,” he said.
Seafish said: “We have sponsored Young Fisherman of the Year for the last four years. We help the seafood industry to thrive now and in the future, so we are proud to support the young skippers and crew who are the future of the fishing industry.
“Being back in the room this year with the nominees, sponsors and supporters was very special, and there was a warm energy. It was great to meet friends again, old and new.”
Port of the Year
Brixham’s award capped off a remarkable year at the port. In 2021, £43.6m-worth of fish was auctioned by Brixham Trawler Agents (BTA), and the port is currently on course to hit this year’s target of £45m.
Adam Mudge, finance director at BTA, said: “Both myself and fellow director Neil Watson attended the Fishing News Awards and were delighted to accept the Port of the Year Award for 2022 on behalf of Brixham. The evening was excellent – and it was fantastic to see all the very deserving winners accepting their awards.
“Managing to come through the Covid pandemic and continue to operate the fishmarket, preparing well and dealing with all Brexit had to offer, and beating the annual fish landings record in 2021 have been major achievements which we are all very proud of.
“All the staff have worked amazingly hard to make sure all these things have happened.”
The success of Brixham looks set to continue, with plans in place to extend the market and its adjoining facilities. The port also has aspirations to develop the harbour infrastructure.
Trainee Fisherman of the Year
Winner: Isla Gale
Sponsor: Sunderland Marine
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for newly crowned Trainee Fisherman of the Year Isla Gale. Since being nominated for a Fishing News Award, she has found herself in high demand by media outlets across the country.
Isla told Fishing News: “I’m just so happy. I was quite nervous leading up to the ceremony because you don’t know who is going to win. I was just glad to be nominated – the whole experience has been amazing.”
Isle of Man-based Isla, who fishes for scallops on the Shannon Kimberley RY 169, paid tribute to the Manx community, saying that it had been instrumental in her success so far.
“I want to thank my dad and skipper as well – my dad for giving me a start, and my skipper for taking me on and showing me everything and pushing me hard.
“And also my mum, for finally letting me go to sea!”
With Ashley Mullenger winning Under-10m Fisherman of the Year, Isla said the awards were a ‘big win’ for all women working in the industry.
Sunderland Marine director Craig McBurnie said: “The return of the Fishing News Awards in person was a great success and enjoyed by all. It was a great celebration of the fishing industry as a whole, and the individuals and organisations involved at every level.
“Sunderland Marine is proud to have sponsored the Trainee Fisherman of the Year award for another year, and to have the opportunity to present the award to the worthy winner, Isla Gale.
“Congratulations again to Isla, and to all the nominees for this recognition of their impressive achievements. It’s fantastic to see the dedication and passion of these skilled trainees, who represent the future of the industry.”
Service Provider of the Year
Winner: Murdo Mackay Engineering Services
Murdo Mackay, of Scrabster-based Murdo Mackay Engineering Services, told Fishing News that he was ‘delighted’ that the business was named Service Provider of the Year.
“It was a nice night. It was really good. I really enjoyed it,” he said “I was delighted to win. It was fairly unexpected, but I was delighted.”
The ceremony offered Murdo the chance to don a kilt. “It’s a rarity that I look clean, that’s for sure. I’ve usually got a boiler suit on,” he said.
The wining trophy will be proudly on display in the reception area of the company’s office. “It’s quite humbling really. I’ve said before, we’re just trying to do our best for folks, just trying to do our job. It’s nice that folk appreciate what we’re doing,” said Murdo.
“I’d like to thank mainly my girlfriend for putting up with all of it, for the last number of years, and my employees and customers.”
The Sustainability Award
Winner: Ghost Fishing UK
Sponsor: The Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust
Ghost Fishing UK is a charity bringing together groups of volunteer divers who donate their time and effort to removing lost fishing gear from the seabed, for safe disposal ashore. It aims to work collaboratively with the industry, and a notification system allows fishermen to report lost gear.
The charity’s Christine Grosart said: “May we take this opportunity to thank Fishing News for the overwhelming support and friendship (and of course the award!) over the course of the past week.
“The Ghost Fishing UK team are still stunned and extremely grateful.
“Thank you once again for such a warm welcome in Scotland – we’ll be back next year!”
Alison Freeman, fisheries programme manager at the The Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust, said: “This year the Sustainability Award saw an extremely competitive line-up of initiatives, all of whom are working hard to improve the marine environment and promote healthier fish and shellfish stocks. Given the challenges faced over the past few years, the panel were impressed with the level of impact achieved from all the nominations.
“We look forward to following their progress and hope to support their continued successes.”
Product of the Year
Winner: EcoPro – Ecomotus
It’s been a busy few years for Jason and Kirstyn Munro, and Adrian Bartlett, of South West company Ecomotus.
“We are so proud to have won the Fishing News Product of the Year Award 2022. We feel honoured that people voted, and can see the potential that the EcoPro has to reduce emissions and make a real difference to the marine industry. We would like to thank everyone who voted for the Ecomotus EcoPro” said Adrian.
Adrian and Jason travelled up to Aberdeen for the awards ceremony. “It was a fantastic night,” said Adrian. “We were seriously impressed with the outstanding menu. We could have eaten the first course twice over, given the chance, it was that good!
“Next year it would be brilliant if we could perhaps meet the chefs to thank them for delivering such a wonderful menu – they all deserve recognition too.”
The EcoPro is designed primarily to reduce emissions, with the additional benefits of reducing fuel consumption and reducing wear on the engine.
“If fishermen can save a few quid catching our wonderful seafood from all around the UK, and it goes back into the pockets of the crew, it’s for the better,” said Adrian.
He said it was ‘a very proud moment for all of us’ when it was announced that Ecomotus had won the award.
“Jason went up to collect the award as the EcoPro is really his baby. He was elated to see the EcoPro get such recognition, and hasn’t stopped smiling since! I know Kirstyn feels the same, although sadly she wasn’t able to make it on the night.
“We’re all seriously proud to be making a difference working with the industry.”
Boat of the Year
Winner: Amanda of Ladram PW 6
Boatyard: Parkol Marine Engineering
The 20.40m Amanda of Ladram is the first new netter of its size to be built for the UK in nearly 20 years.
Martyn Youell, head of fisheries at vessel owner Waterdance, said: “Waterdance is delighted to win the vessel award for the second year running. Investing in the modernisation of our fleet is a strategic priority for us for reasons of emissions reductions, crew comfort and safety.”
Built by Parkol Marine Engineering, the vessel features a wheelhouse offset to starboard and positioned further forward than normal, with deep forward-facing windows that give a commanding view of the hauling station.
“Waterdance and Parkol are two family businesses, and the collaboration on the Amanda of Ladram has been a great success.
“The quality of the workmanship from Parkol has been excellent. Credit is also due to Harry Griffin, our head of fleet operations, for project management of the build,” said Martyn Youell.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: David Linkie
Sponsor: Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association
The unanimous decision of the industry judging panel was that this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award should
be awarded posthumously to former Fishing News editor David Linkie, who passed away last June at the age of 66.
For over more than a quarter of a century, Dave was a tireless champion of UK and Irish commercial fishing, who in return was held in affection and high regard across the industry.
Brought up in Berwick0upon-Tweed, Dave was captivated by the fishing industry from an early age. Although he initially pursued a career in teaching, he forged enduring connections with people across the industry as a freelance reporter for FN from the mid-1990s. A career change in 2000 saw him become a full-time correspondent for the paper, focussing on Scotland, North East England and vessels old and new.
He also took on the editorship of the Fishing Vessels of Britain and Ireland directory, which he built up to become a best-seller.
In 2015 he took over as editor of FN, and for five years maintained a superhuman workload, combining the full-time-plus demands of getting the paper out each week with 1,000-mile round trips to the length and breadth of the country to produce news stories and compile his epic boat features.
Although he stepped back from the day to day running of the paper following his cancer diagnosis at the end of 2019, he continued to work right up to the end, with his final stories published just days before his death.
His encyclopedic knowledge of boats, peerless photography and absolute dedication to the paper are hugely missed as the FN team work to take his legacy forward.
Mike Park, CEO of the SWFPA said: “The awards night saw the return of the fishing BAFTAs.
“Not only was it a great night, excellently compered by Des Clarke, it provided the ideal opportunity to posthumously recognise the selfless contribution made by Dave Linkie. And it was refreshing to see so many women recognised alongside their male counterparts.
“It was a magnificent occasion that all at Fishing News should be proud of delivering.”
Drinks reception sponsor: Scottish Fishermen’s Federation
SFF chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: “SFF was delighted to sponsor the drinks reception at last week’s Awards dinner in Aberdeen. After such a prolonged period with precious few social events during the pandemic, it was great to be out again, celebrating our industry with colleagues and friends.
“The last two years have been very tough indeed for parts of the fleet, and we know difficult challenges lie ahead too, but it was good for one night to put these to one side and celebrate all that is good about fishing.
“SFF congratulates all the worthy winners, and echoes the sentiments expressed by David Milne, chairman of SWFPA, in recognising the tremendous contribution made by the late David Linkie.
“It was an excellent night out, and we look forward to gathering again in 2023.”
Awards safety partner: Fishing Industry Safety Group
The Fishing Industry Safety Group said: “The Fishing News Awards are a great opportunity for us to keep safety in front of mind with the fishing industry.
“The Awards recognise the professionalism and passion in the industry and being safety-conscious is a hallmark of great vessel owners, skippers and crew.”
Bespoke menu featuring local seafood
Guests were treated to a gourmet three-course meal with wine, featuring prime seafood supplied by Seafood Scotland, which worked closely with the chefs at The Chester Hotel to create a bespoke menu for the event.
The starter of ravioli of langoustine and scallop with glazed hispi cabbage and shellfish bisque was followed by a main course of roast hake, accompanied by mussel and leek broth, pomme purée, kale and carrot. Dessert was a glazed lemon tart with chocolate crunch and raspberry sorbet, and the meal was rounded off by tea or coffee with chocolate truffles.
Guests’ generosity raises £2,000 for Mission
Our charity partner for the Awards evening was once again the Fishermen’s Mission. New CEO Marc Evans – who took over from retiring CEO David Dickens just six weeks ago – spoke about the Mission’s vital work.
At the end of the evening, table donations from the guests were counted up, and the grand total of £2,000 was announced from the stage.
Marc Evans was then asked to draw the name of the winner in the evening’s raffle. The prize of a night’s accommodation and breakfast for two, generously donated by The Chester Hotel, was won by Nichola Buchan.
Find out more about the awards here.