The conference was due to be held at Strathclyde University's Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) in Glasgow.

Scotland’s Sea Lice Conference faces postponement after SAIC funding refusal


An international conference of sea lice experts that was due to take place in Glasgow in September looks set to be postponed following last year’s decision by a universities funding body not to give a new grant to Scotland’s Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

The 14th edition of the International Sea Lice Conference had been scheduled for September 10-12 at Strathclyde University’s Technology and Innovation Centre.

But in an email to those expecting to take part, SAIC announced that due to the cut in public sector financing the conference will likely have to be postponed to 2025.

Another partner

SAIC’s communications and knowledge exchange director Benedikte Ranum wrote that, together with the Scottish Government, the organisation remained interested in the event taking place in Scotland and is looking for ways that can happen.

“We are hopeful that we have found another Scottish partner to host the event. However, this inevitable delay means that the Conference will, in all likelihood, be postponed until 2025,” wrote Ranum.

“We are urgently awaiting formal confirmation so that we can communicate further details to all concerned. I am very sorry to bring you such disappointing news and I assure you that we will keep you informed as soon as we have more information to share.”

Scottish Funding Council

SAIC’s host institution is Stirling University, which is also home to the Institute of Aquaculture, and SAIC’s core funder for the first 10 years of its existence has been the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

Although the SFC’s primary purpose is to invest around £2 billion a year in Scotland’s 19 universities and 24 colleges, it has also funded Scotland’s seven innovation centres as their work is interlinked with academia. SAIC applied to the SFC for future funding last year but was one of three innovation centres that had bids rejected.

In November last year, the Scottish Government said it was working closely with the SFC, SAIC, and other partners to secure the Centre’s future.

“This includes alternative delivery and funding arrangements for SAIC, ensuring the value and expertise which SAIC offers to innovation in a key marine sector is retained. It is too early to confirm what such arrangements will be,” it said.

Slimmed down 

Speaking at a fish health seminar last month, SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said SAIC will continue as a slimmed-down organisation with a focus on fish health.

“SAIC is still here, and SAIC will continue to be here,” said Jones.

She added that negotiations were going on in the background about how much money SAIC would get and over what period, but the main message was “we’re here and we’re all about fish health R&D”.

The postponement of September’s conference is not the first time Scotland has run into problems with the event. In November 2018, at the 12th Sealice Conference in Punta Arenas, Chile, Scotland was chosen as host for the 13th event after presentations from Scotland, Australia, and the Faroes. However, it backed out of doing so the following month, citing “agenda problems”. The conference eventually took place in the Faroe Islands.