Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre funding award provides boost to Scottish salmon industry.
A £4 million project to upscale the use of farmed wrasse in commercial salmon farms has begun.
Initiated by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), the new project, based in Machrihanish, in Argyll, has the potential to increase productivity on salmon farms and reduce the use of medicines in the industry. With the project agreement in place, the project team can set about taking validated lab research through to full application in the commercial environment.
The SAIC has awarded grant funding of £831,530 to the project, which has leveraged contributions worth £3.01 million from Marine Harvest (Scotland), Scottish Sea Farms, BioMar, and the University of Stirling.
Building on proof of concept established in previous research, the SAIC project will extend current knowledge through to upscaling of hatchery technologies; optimisation of cleaner fish welfare in salmon cages; and prototyping in the commercial environment.
Project outcomes will include commercial protocols, research tools and a new knowledge of the biology of the ballan wrasse. This will permit production of a handbook that individual farmers in Scotland – including SMEs – can use as a beginning-to-end guide on the breeding and husbandry of farmed wrasse.
Heather Jones, CEO of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, said: "The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre's role is to bring industry and academia together to help grow the industry sustainably through innovation. This project exactly fits that bill; sea lice control heads SAIC's list of Priority Innovation Areas. Our grant funding has galvanised an industry-academic collaboration that not only leverages substantial investment, but will feed into Scottish economic growth."
Steve Bracken, Business Support Manager at Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd, added: "The deployment of wrasse as a means to control sea lice should increase the availability of farm sites, reduce medication costs and increase production efficiency. All parts of the industry – from large companies such as ourselves, to SMEs - will see benefits from this, and the already-excellent reputation of Scottish salmon will be enhanced."
And the academic lead on the project team, Professor Hervé Migaud, Professor in Fish Physiology and Director of Research at Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, commented: "The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre's support and funding will enable us to extend this project from proof of concept to the commercial environment. The impact of the research will be considerable in both scientific and economic terms. In addition, PhD and Masters students at the Institute of Aquaculture have the opportunity to gain research expertise in one of the aquaculture industry's most pressing issues."