In­dus­try Pi­o­neer

David Cor­ri­gan

Fish Farmer - - Contents -

D last­ing bonds, not least with the man­ag­ing direc­tor. When Fish Farmer spoke to Cor­ri­gan, on his last day at work on June

‘He was very emo­tional be­cause when he started with Marine Har ‘I said back then, that boy is go­ing places. Even though he was just

pro­duc­tion man­ager, then he got the job in Nor­way and now he’s back in Scot­land run­ning the ship’. ‘He phoned me and prob­a­bly paid me the high­est ac­co­lade I’ve had in Marine Har­vest since I started,’ said Cor­ri­gan. ‘He said, you busi­ness he loves to a wider au­di­ence. He be­gan at Marine Har­vest in 1985, as a had been pro­moted to se­nior tech­ni­cian. He unit at Ard­nish, which was opened in 2007. While pro­gress­ing through the com­pany ranks, he was taken aside around 1989-1990 and asked to train ‘The com­pany had 900 em­ploy­ees at the time and we were in a bad way. They de­cided they wanted to in­volve ev­ery em­ployee in how to make things bet­ter and make the com­pany sur­vive, and I was prob­a­bly the low­est ranking mem­ber. gramme called Cus­tomer First, driven by the then pro­duc­tion man­ager John on in North­ern Ire­land). It made a huge with ideas.’ the Marine Har­vest ed­u­ca­tional pro­gramme, pi­o­neered by Cor­ri­gan.

Ard­nish is prob­a­bly the most vis­ited the world be­cause I en­cour­aged visi­tors, it’s some­thing as an in­dus­try we do” need to

‘As an in­dus­try we didn’t pro­mote our­selves. All you heard was bad news – fish farms do this and fish farms do that. Why didn’t we get out into the com­mu­ni­ties, to the coun­cil­lors and to the politi­cians and tell them what we do? So we de­cided to start in the schools.’

Since then the pro­gramme has reached more than 15,000 pupils, said Cor­ri­gan, and some of the young­sters he spoke to in Pri­mary 7 have now grown up and found jobs in the com­pany, and at his farm site.

He has been go­ing to Lochaber High School ev­ery year to talk to fifth and sixth form pupils, none of whom would have con­sid­ered work­ing in fish farm­ing.

‘I al­ways start off by say­ing, please don’t be em­bar­rassed but I know there is no one in this au­di­ence to­day who is go­ing down the road of aqua­cul­ture. You’re go­ing to univer­sity and you’ll do law and health or science, and they all agree be­cause they don’t know any­thing about aqua­cul­ture, even though it’s on their doorstep.

‘There are 25,000 peo­ple in Lochaber and the vast ma­jor­ity haven’t a clue how we feed fish, how we farm fish, where they come from. There’s a gap there that needs to be filled.

‘We have 84 dif­fer­ent po­si­tions in Marine Har­vest, with health, pro­cess­ing, pro­duc­tion, the lab, and the salaries are com­pet­i­tive. Aqua­cul­ture gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to stay lo­cal if they want to, and if they want to travel, we’re in Ire­land, we’re in Nor­way, Chile and Canada, so there are a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties.’

Cor­ri­gan has wel­comed 657 visi­tors to Ard­nish but he regrets that more is not done to ex­tol the virtues of salmon farm­ing.

‘If I had an­other life I’d come back and say to Ben, let me loose on the politi­cians and the coun­cil­lors.’

He has been on first name terms with many of the High­lands and Is­lands MSPs, though he hasn’t got to know the new crop yet, and he loves the idea of a Marine Har­vest vis­i­tor cen­tre on Skye, which Had­field is build­ing, not far from the pro­posed lo­ca­tion of the com­pany’s feed plant.

‘Let’s en­cour­age coach parties from down south - which I would have done be­fore now - to stop in and find out what we do.’

He is wor­ried that there will be no one to fill his boots when he leaves, not nec­es­sar­ily to run Ard­nish, though that is a com­pli­cated job he says, but to lobby on be­half of the sec­tor.

He said he was first per­suaded to rep­re­sent the com­pany by Marine Har­vest busi­ness sup­port man­ager Steve Bracken, who saw he was good with peo­ple and coached him to speak to politi­cians. To­gether, said Cor­ri­gan, they have been ‘at the fore­front of pro­mot­ing aqua­cul­ture and Marine Har­vest’.

‘The SSPO [Scot­tish Salmon Pro­duc­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion], they have

Photos: Iain Fer­gu­son www.thewriteim­

Op­po­site page: David Cor­ri­gan with col­league Phyl­lis Mac­Don­ald handing over a cheque to High­land Hospice in Fort Wil­liam. Above: At one of his reg­u­lar school vis­its.

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