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
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.