Women in aquaculture: Alexis Chatterton
Alexis Chatterton, mooring services manager with Gael Force Group, explains how developing equipment such as cages and mooring systems that can cope with extreme environmental conditions is key to the expansion of the aquaculture industry.
Briefly describe your aquaculture career.
My first job in aquaculture came when I Joined Gael Force Group, initially in the accounts department. After a short time, I was offered the role of customer service manager in the aquaculture moorings department and quickly realised that this was the sector that I would most like to work in. I was promoted to moorings service manager, designing and specifying moorings systems for fish farms, which include the pens, barges and any structure or vessel that needs to be moored on site.
What inspired you to start in aquaculture?
When I began my role as the customer service manager I dealt a lot with farm workers, site managers and their area managers. The thing that struck me most was their passion for their job and ambition for the industry as a whole. I have never worked in an industry where every person involved cares so much about the job they are doing and the welfare of their product. I share this passion and, as I was warned when I started the role, find the sector addictive. It’s forever changing and continually improving, which makes it an exciting and rewarding industry to work in.
Describe a typical day in your current role with Gael Force.
My current role sees me involved in the moorings design as early as the planning-application stage, providing attestation and specifications for new sites as well as providing mooring systems for existing sites. The latter can sometimes be challenging, especially when trying to fit these moorings into consent areas that can be quite tight – this requires us to look at ways to provide solutions to accommodate the layout the customer requires. I am lucky enough that I occasionally get to escape from the office environment to attend site visits. I find this to be the most beneficial way for me to learn from the experts themselves. I have a very keen interest in the industry as a whole – from fish health to feeding systems, as well as moorings – and being able to visit these sites gives me the ability to understand how we can help grow the industry, as well as how to provide the very best service to our customers.
What’s the most inspirational experience you’ve had working in aquaculture to date?
I am very fortunate where I work. At Gael Force, the passion for growing the industry and overcoming the challenges is infectious. In Scotland, aquaculture is one of the strongest contributors to the economy – estimated at £1.8 billion – but it’s not just financial benefits that the industry brings. It’s also the opportunities it gives to rural communities – allowing residents the chance to have not only a well-paid job but excellent career opportunities as well – not to mention the knock-on effects for small businesses that benefit from having workers from these farms living and investing in rural communities. This would not exist if it were not for fish farming. Jobs on fish farms have kept more than one remote school open.
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