|31 August 2016|

Scotland

Two aquaculture projects to support the development of salmon feed innovations have been given a financial boost.

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) are providing £140,000 support for two pioneering projects which will receive a quarter of a million pounds of funding from industry and academic partners.

Supermarket giant Morrisons have teamed up with Biomar, the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling and SARIA to tackle a major problem facing the industry; to identify alternative protein sources that are locally sourced and have low environmental impact, for use in feeds. The plan is to develop a roadmap to explore the use of avian-derived protein (from poultry).

The UK industry currently imports a high proportion of its salmon feed from marine resources and imported vegetable protein sources like soy protein concentrates so adopting avian protein could significantly reduce feed costs and production costs.

Morrisons’ Fisheries & Aquaculture Manager Huw Thomas says: “As one of the UK’s largest supermarket retailers, we are committed to ensuring our seafood sourcing programme uses methods which are the least detrimental to the marine environment. This project will explore decreasing our reliance on marine resources for fish feed. If this concept proves acceptable to our customers, we could change our feed ingredient policy.”

The second SAIC-supported feeds project will see natural health and nutrition specialist Alltech partner with the University of Glasgow, Marine Harvest and NOFIMA to explore a key cause of poor growth in salmon: inefficient digestion, linked to the fish’s metabolic rate.

Intestinal microbes are known to play a central role in how fish metabolise and harvest energy from feed, and greater understanding of these processes could reveal routes to improve growth efficiency of salmon. To this end, the team will develop a new experimental tool – SalmoSim – to explore the link between gut microbial communities and feed digestion.

Scotland’s Minister for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing said: “I am thrilled to see such innovative thinking as we look for ways to increase sustainable production across the sector. Scottish salmon is Scotland’s single biggest food export and adds considerable value to our economy as a whole. Projects like these not only help the industry to grow economically but bring value through jobs, sustainability and environmental benefits. I want to see finfish and shellfish aquaculture continue to thrive, growing sustainably and led by world-leading science, innovation and research. I welcome the contribution of SAIC, in partnership with both industries.”