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Professor Herve Migaud (ioA), Paddy Campbell (BioMar) and Dave Cockerill (MHS) accepting the award on behalf of all those involved in the project
Professor Herve Migaud (ioA), Paddy Campbell (BioMar) and Dave Cockerill (MHS) accepting the award on behalf of all those involved in the project

A wrasse research project whose commercial partners include Biomar, Marine Harvest and Scottish Sea Farms won the Innovative Collaboration prize at last night’s Scottish Enterprise Life Science Awards.

The multi-party applied research project, which is due to deliver over 300,000 farmed wrasse to Scottish salmon farms in the course of this year, is being conducted by Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, with support from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SIAC).

Launched in June 2015, the 42-month project - which is based in Machrihanish - is developing the sustainable farming and deployment of wrasse as cleaner fish. SAIC awarded grant funding of £831,530 to the project, leveraging contributions worth £3.01m from industry and academia.

The SE Life Science awards recognise the leading organisations, people and projects in the Scottish life sciences sector. In a globally-renowned sector that employs some 35,000 people and contributes over £3.5bn a year to the Scottish economy, competition for the awards is tough.

BioMar has been developing and providing all the diets for the wrasse - both for use in the hatchery and maintenance rations for those wrasse that have been deployed in the salmon pens.

Managing Director, Paddy Campbell, told Fish Farming Expert: “The project was the only one from the aquaculture industry to make the shortlist and it was great to win the award – sea louse control is beneficial to all salmon producers and is a fitting subject for a collaborative initiative such as the wrasse project.

“The success of cleanerfish projects such as this will also help the industry’s ambitions to expand in a sustainable manner.”

“The strength and expertise in Scotland’s life sciences sector is outstanding, so for the project to win this award is huge,” commented Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC. “And given that ‘innovation’ and ‘collaboration’ are probably the two words we most use at SAIC, we’re delighted to have won the Innovation Collaboration Award.

“But even more important than winning awards are the long-term impacts this project could achieve, including increased productivity on Scottish salmon farms and reduced use of medicines for sea lice control. These will deliver strong economic benefits for the Scottish salmon industry and Scotland.”

Lead researcher, Professor Hervé Migaud, said: “We are absolutely delighted to win this prestigious award and have thoroughly enjoyed working with industry to bring the project to life.

“SAIC’s support and funding has enabled us to extend this project from proof of concept to the commercial environment. The impact of the research is proving to be considerable in both scientific and economic terms.”