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Grant 'will unlock millions for aquaculture projects'

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones has welcomed a near £2.3m EMFF / Scottish Government grant. Photo: SAIC
SAIC chief executive Heather Jones has welcomed a near £2.3m EMFF / Scottish Government grant. Photo: SAIC

Scotland's aquaculture industry will benefit from capital expenditure of £9 million after the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) was granted nearly £2.3m by the EU's European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Scottish Government.

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SAIC took the biggest slice of £4.8 million of funding granted to to 43 projects across Scotland. The money is intended to boost growth and create local jobs in the sea fisheries, aquaculture and processing sectors.

“This award will support innovations involving four companies in Scotland, leveraging further investment from the private sector in new equipment and technologies totalling £9m of capital expenditure," said SAIC chief executive Heather Jones.

New technologies

"Beyond the numbers, we're thrilled that new technologies are being developed and trialled to improve fish health and to explore farming in higher energy locations around Scotland’s coast.”

Of the £2,295,097.25 coming to SAIC, £1,721,322.93 is from the EMFF and £573,774.32 from the Scottish Government.

The total £4,829,442.50 grant for all 43 projects comprises:

  • £3,622,081.81 from the EU
  • £1,194,779.06 from the Scottish Government
  • and £12,581.63 from Scottish public bodies, including Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetlands Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

SAIC has been well supported by industry, particularly salmon farming, in a number of projects it has instigated to help Scottish aquaculture grow and thrive.

Health challenges

Its priority areas, agreed with the industry, are to: address environmental and health challenges, particularly sea lice and gill disease; develop feeds that optimise fish health and nutrition; unlock additional capacity for aquaculture development through innovative, evidence-based approaches; and establish a reliable supply of mussel spat.

SAIC released figures in October showing that it had coordinated 15 projects worth a total of £11.64m, of which industry has contributed £6.58m (57%), SAIC £2.97m (26%), other funding £1.35m (12%) and academia £739k (6%).

The Centre has applied for funding of £26.1m as part of the Stirling City Region Deal

SAIC says the money, building on its Phase 1 funding of £11.1m which will run out in 2020, would deliver:

  • A cumulative programme of innovative R&D of £94.4m
  • £690m additional sales across Stirling and Scotland
  • 1,842 new jobs, on top of 1,197 jobs created in Phase 1, totalling 3,039 jobs
  • A further £47m of projects, of which the University of Stirling would likely be involved in £33m
  • Stirling becoming the unquestioned UK hub for aquaculture excellence

Projects range from those of less than a year to multi-partner collaborations of up to three and a half years. Current projects include a cheaper, faster method of monitoring fish health, exploring ultrasound technology for use against sea lice, developing a mobile biomarker detection for seawater readiness of young fish and developing genetic tools for mussel hatchery broodstock.

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