|23 November 2015|

The aquaculture industry has the potential to contribute an additional £1 billion to the Scottish economy by 2030, according to the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

Innovators magazine was delighted to be at SAIC’s annual conference last week, which also marked its first full year in operation. Major multi-million pound projects were announced at the event which welcomed deputy first minister John Swinney as its keynote speaker.

With a theme of Aquaculture Innovation: A Springboard to 2030, the event brought together over 200 key stakeholders in aquaculture industry, research and policymaking to discuss industry growth and sustainabiility.

SAIC used the occasion at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth to announce major new projects to boost salmon and shellfish production in Scotland.

A pilot-scale shellfish hatchery is to be established at the NAFC Marine Centre (part of the University of the Highlands and Islands) to test the commercial viability of establishing Scotland’s first commercial hatchery for mussels and other shellfish; and a programme of R&D aimed at increasing the yield of farmed mussels in Scotland

Two cleaner-fish applied research projects will also be launched, involving the deployment of lumpsucker fish to control sea lice on salmon farms. The greater deployment of ‘cleaner-fish’ in salmon pens could boost salmon production in Scotland.

Both projects involve industry-academia consortia, and stem from SAIC’s work to utilise the strength of the research base in Scotland to address the Scottish aquaculture industry’s key issues. All projects initiated and sponsored by SAIC are designed to drive commercial success, economic growth, and a more sustainable industry.

Speaking at the event, Heather Jones, CEO of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, said: “As we enter our second year, SAIC has already gathered real momentum, with five projects announced, worth over £9 million. Feedback from our stakeholders has been extremely positive, supporting our focus on funding projects demanded by industry which will deliver clear results and returns to the Scottish economy and the Scottish people.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scottish Food and Drink, another key speaker at the SAIC event, added: “Scotland’s aquaculture produce has a world-class reputation, based on its quality and provenance. But to remain competitive within the global marketplace requires continual innovation. We are therefore delighted that the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre is promoting the innovative collaborations between businesses and researchers that will promote the industry’s future growth and commercial success.”