A Scottish Sea Farms salmon site farm in Loch Creran. The Scottish salmon industry is funding some of a £2.2m investment in aquaculture research coordinated by SAIC next year. Photo: SAIC / SSF.

£2.2m for aquaculture research in Scotland

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) today announced funding for eight new innovation projects that will support the sustainable development of the aquaculture sector in Scotland and beyond.

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The projects represent a total combined investment of more than £2.2 million from industry, academia and SAIC, with more than £900,000 coming from the innovation centre. The collaborative research and development initiatives will focus on areas key to the sector’s growth, ranging from enhancing fish health and welfare to environmental monitoring.

Gill health

The selected projects will explore new methods for sea lice control, managing gill health and environmental impact modelling, among other areas. They concentrate on a variety of species to reflect the diverse make-up of the sector, including salmon, trout, and wrasse, and at least one of the projects will support shellfish production – one of SAIC’s priority innovation areas.

In a press release, SAIC said the newly funded projects are expected to commence in 2021 and will last between five months and three years, combining expertise from some of the sector’s best-known businesses and leading academic researchers. Proposals were assessed by SAIC’s Independent Scientific Panel (SISP) against a range of criteria, including their long-term commercial impacts and opportunities for sharing knowledge and applying outcomes across the entire sector.

Heather Jones: "Scotland can be at the forefront of new initiatives and developments in technology."

A crucial role

SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “The aquaculture sector is well placed to help meet the growing demand for high-quality protein, and innovation continues to play a crucial role in expanding the sector’s capacity and unlocking new opportunities. Scotland can be at the forefront of new initiatives and developments in technology that will help the sector to grow sustainably.

“The results from our previous collaborative research projects – including the development of new tools, new jobs, and even new businesses – are great examples of what can be achieved when industry and academia work together. Finding answers to some of the sector’s most pressing challenges has seldom been more important, particularly in the wake of Covid-19.

“Our consortium represents the entire aquaculture sector supply chain which is reflected in the variety and scope of these latest projects. They have the potential to deliver valuable outcomes that could make a real difference to the future of the sector.”