Aquaculture industry offers £2 million to support fish health

Fergus Ewing
Fergus Ewing

SAIC – the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre – has today (2nd July) confirmed funding for five new innovation projects, which will support the delivery of the Scottish Government’s 10-year Farmed Fish Health Framework.

With a combined investment of more than £2 million from industry, academia and SAIC, the initiatives will explore tools and techniques that could be used across the Scottish aquaculture industry to improve fish health and wellbeing, along with the management of disease.

Proposals were submitted to SAIC in response to a special call for projects aligned with the Farmed Fish Health Framework. Published by the Scottish Government in 2018, this 10-year strategic framework includes measures to improve fish health, protect the marine environment, and ensure Scotland’s main food export grows sustainably. Key areas of activity include managing sea lice, better information flow and transparency, and tackling climate change issues.

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.

Supporting SAIC’s commitment of more than £743,000, 55% of the £2m total project funding comes from industry and 9% from academia, with the special projects call unlocking additional financial support for critical fish health research. Projects range from 12 to 24 months in duration and underpin the innovation centre’s commitment to encouraging collaboration on priority issues and drive innovation across the sector.

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.”

Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, added: “Committing to fund additional projects allows us to support collaboration between producers and academia. 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.”

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