Fish health is critical to the future of aquaculture, says SAIC chief executive Heather Jones. Photo: FFE.

£2m to be spent on projects to improve fish health

Scotland’s fish farmers have committed more than £1 million to five new innovation projects to improve fish health and wellbeing.

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With a combined investment of more than £2m from industry, academia and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), the initiatives will explore tools and techniques that could be used across the Scottish aquaculture industry.

Proposals were submitted to SAIC in response to a special call for projects aligned with the Scottish Government’s Farmed Fish Health Framework.

Fergus Ewing: Innovation is vital to growth ambition.

Sea lice control

Initiatives selected for funding include using novel technologies for sea lice control, finding quicker ways to diagnose disease, and looking at methods for minimising the risks from natural causes that lead to mortality in farmed fish at sea. Further details will be released at a later date when agreements the parties involved have been finalised.

SAIC will commit more than £743,000, with 55% of the £2m total project funding coming from industry and 9% from academia. Projects range from 12 to 24 months in duration.

Climate change risks

Rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “Government and industry in Scotland are working to improve farmed fish health in Scotland, and ensure the sustainable growth of Scotland’s most valuable food export. Innovation projects like these are vital to those ambitions, making the industry more streamlined, improving the environment and fish health, and helping to create and support jobs.

“It’s great to see projects like this, which directly align with the ambitions of Scotland’s 10-year Farmed Fish Health Framework, receiving funding.”

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “The valuable research should help the industry to find ways to better control sea lice and mitigate disease and climate change risks in future. Fish health is a priority and critical to the future of aquaculture.”