SAIC's new board members, from left: SSC marine director Alan Sutherland, aquaculture research boss Pieter van West and Alan Tinch, Benchmark Genetics' technical lead for its global breeding programmes for aquatic species. Photos: SAIC.

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre brings 80 years of experience on board

Scottish Salmon Company marine director Alan Sutherland has been appointed to the board of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

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He is joined by Alan Tinch, technical director of Benchmark Genetics, and Pieter van West, director of the International Centre for Aquaculture Research and Development at the University of Aberdeen.

The three, who have been appointed to support the innovation centre’s drive towards a more sustainable future for aquaculture, bring a combined 80 years of experience to the SAIC leadership team.

Strong track record

With almost four decades working in the global fish farming sector, Sutherland has a strong track record in business development and senior leadership, SAIC said in a press release.

He returns to SAIC, having been a founding director when the centre launched in 2014. Sutherland previously led the Scottish, USA and Canadian divisions of Pan Fish and Marine Harvest – now Mowi – and has held a number of external board and committee positions, including the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum, African Century Foods and VeroBlue.

Genetics specialist

Tinch is a specialist in advanced livestock breeding and genetics and is the current technical lead for Benchmark Genetics for its global breeding programmes for aquatic species. He has more than 30 years’ experience managing commercial research and development projects across aquatic and terrestrial species – currently working on Atlantic salmon, shrimp and tilapia – with a strong focus on innovation and development in Scottish aquaculture.

Extensive academic background

Van West has been appointed to the innovation centre’s Independent Scientific Panel as deputy chair, in addition to joining the SAIC board. He has an extensive academic background as part of the International Centre of Aquaculture Research and Development and the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. He is also an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Valuable knowledge

SAIC chair David Gregory said the new board members would be great additions to the leadership team.

“Each will bring valuable knowledge and experience to the table, with international expertise in multi-species aquaculture, academic know-how and a track record of collaborating across industry and applied science,” said Gregory.

“Greater collaboration will play a key role in supporting the aquaculture industry to meet the rising demand for quality, sustainably sourced protein. By fostering collaborative networks, we can help Scottish aquaculture to thrive with new technology and cost-effective, sustainable, data-led ways of working that can future-proof the sector, particularly amid the ongoing challenges of Covid-19.”