The
collaborative research and development initiatives will focus on a number of
areas key to the sector’s growth – ranging from enhancing fish health and
welfare to environmental monitoring – and the investment comes from industry,
academia and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

Scotland’s
aquaculture sector is working to sustainably double its economic contribution
from £1.8 billion in 2016 to £3.6 billion by 2030 – an aim outlined in its
Aquaculture Growth to 2030 strategy. Innovation has been highlighted as playing
a particularly important role in helping to meet the increasing global demand
for farmed fish and shellfish.

Projects
selected for the funding round will explore new methods for sea lice control,
managing gill health and environmental impact modelling, among other areas.
They relate to a variety of species, including salmon, trout, wrasse and shellfish.

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,
CEO of SAIC, 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.”

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