Rising Star | Adam Steele

Year of Young People

Our sector is proud to employ people of all ages and backgrounds, and particularly pleased to be able to offer rewarding careers to people starting off in life after school, college and university. Salmon farming is one of the key sectors helping to support the rural economy in the Highlands and Islands and offers good career opportunities for young people to stay in the region. It is as true now, in this Year of Young People, as it has ever been. SSPO has been speaking to a number of younger employees, or ‘rising stars’ as we like to think of them, to find out their stories.

Adam Steele – Wester Ross Fisheries

Q: What is your job and what does it involve?

I’m a seawater assistant for the Wester Ross Fisheries and I work on their farms based in the Ullapool area. My daily tasks vary but they have a common goal – to take care of the salmon, to hand-rear them into a premium product ready for the market.

Q: What got you into salmon farming?

A: I heard about salmon farming from my brother who was working for Wester Ross previously; for me, it was just a job to begin with but now I’m beginning to realise it actually is a great opportunity – to work locally and develop a career which is not an easy find in the rural areas of Scotland.

Q: What excites you most about the sector? Why do you enjoy what you do?

A: Working with people is one of the best things about the job. I definitely enjoy working with my colleagues; to be inspired, to work towards a joined goal. Salmon farming is a great example of how much can be achieved if a group of passionate people work together well.

Q: What advice would you give to other young people considering a career in the salmon farming sector?

A: It’s actually quite important to think about the outdoors aspect of the job. Working in, sometimes extreme, weather conditions is a challenge we all have to face. It’s also good to think about the manual nature of the job as it might not appeal to everyone.

Q: How does technology/digital transformation improve your work?

A: Wester Ross is a very much hands-on and we are encouraged and taught how to farm salmon in a very traditional way but there are some aspects of the job that require the help of technology. This might be very different to other farms where they use a great deal of technology and machinery. I like the concept behind VAKI which is a biomass counter. It’s a very inconspicuous and quiet machine but the data we get every day using wireless technology is priceless. We also use audio devices that protect the stocks and simple air lift pump system for stress-free and quick harvest.

Q: Was salmon farming an opportunity for you to return to, or stay in your local area?

A: As mentioned previously, my brother used to work as a fish farmer for just over three years. I thought I’d give it a try. It’s not easy to find a full-time job in a rural area as Ullapool and salmon farming is a great opportunity for locals to engage and build something really valuable with great prospects for the future.

Q: How does your company and community work together?

A: I’m sure there are many other ways how we contribute to the local community but I like the engagement with schools. We’ve had quite a few school trips coming to the farm throughout the year; it’s fantastic that kids can nowadays see where their food comes from. It gets people talking about sustainability of the food we all eat and also inspires kids to come and work in the aquaculture industry.