Multimillion fund will boost innovation in sustainable aquaculture

£4.6 million fund will bring academia and industry together to tackle key challenges facing sustainable UK aquaculture.

Researchers and their industrial partners working in sustainable aquaculture are set to benefit from a share of a new £4.6 million Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) investment.

The Sustainable Aquaculture Partnerships for Innovation fund will support 10 projects designed to address specific challenges facing British aquaculture, including disease prevention and animal welfare.

All funded projects include at least one partner from industry who will contribute at least 10% cash or in-kind to the full economic cost of the project.

Impact of plankton on aquaculture

Among the funded projects is a 24-month consortium, which will help to address the health and welfare impact of plankton on aquaculture by using:

  • novel imaging approaches
  • artificial intelligence
  • mathematical models
  • real-time web-based reporting

The project has applicability to a diverse range of areas and international applications and could benefit the shellfish aquaculture industry.

Elsewhere, researchers will explore how regulating exposure to light can help tackle some of the challenges posed by infectious diseases on salmon farms. Previous research underpinning the project has shown that juvenile trout exposed to continuous light were less resistant to skin parasites.

Boosting red seaweed cultivation

Another project will bring together a large consortium of seaweed producers from around the UK, Sweden, and Norway to research ways to boost red seaweed cultivation.

This will include the use of:

  • novel culturing strategies
  • hatchery technology
  • contamination control, microbiome engineering
  • predatory microorganisms for disease control

Supporting food security

Dr Lee Beniston, Associate Director of Industry Partnerships and Collaborative R&D at BBSRC, said:

Advances in aquaculture technology and innovative approaches have enormous potential to provide the UK, and the world, with a more sustainable, diverse, and healthy source of nutrition. This will support ambitions in areas such as food security through to the health of the nation.

We are pleased to be investing, alongside businesses, in these exciting research and innovation projects which will catalyse and drive innovation across the aquaculture industry.

Further information

Funded projects

Accelerating genetic improvement of Atlantic salmon using speed breeding and gene editing technologies

Principal investigator: Diego Robledo, University of Edinburgh

Project partner: Benchmark Holdings PLC

Plankton monitoring and risk assessment to safeguard finfish aquaculture (aqua-plankton)

Principal investigator: Keith Davidson, Scottish Association for Marine Science

Project partners:

  • Scottish Sea farms
  • Bakkafrost
  • Mowi
  • Salmon Scotland

The role of photoperiod in immune development and health in salmon aquaculture

Principal investigator: Amy Ellison, Bangor University

Project partners: Mowi and Scottish Sea farms

Integrative microbiome surveillance for effective management of gill health in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar

Principal investigator: Simon Mackenzie, University of Stirling

Project partners: PatoGen and Bakkafrost

Development of accurate diagnostic methods for Saprolegniosis for salmonid aquaculture

Principal investigator: Pieter van West, University of Aberdeen

Project partners:

  • Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd
  • Scottish Seafarms
  • Cooke Aquaculture Scotland
  • Mowi
  • Hendrix Genetics
  • Bakkafrost Scotland

Revolutionizing sea lice detection for sustainable salmon farming and conservation

Principal investigators: Helena Reinardy, Scottish Association for Marine Science

Project partners: Mowi and Argyll Fisheries Trust

On-demand, electric-powered aeration for improved fish welfare in salmon aquaculture

Principal investigator: Adam Brooker, University of Stirling

Project partners: Bakkafrost and Garrett Brothers

Camelina omega-3 oil for optimal heart and gill health

Principal investigator: Monica Betancor, University of Stirling

Project partner: Biomar

Biofouling prediction in seaweed aquaculture

Principal investigator: Sofie Spatharis, University of Glasgow

Project partners:

  • Jurassic Sea Farms Ltd
  • Algapelago
  • Kilchoan Estate
  • Atlantic mariculture
  • Cornish Seaweed company
  • Millport Field Studies Council
  • Seaweed Solutions AS
  • SoftSeaweed
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology Trondhjem Biological station

FABRICS: facilitating algal biotechnology with rhodophyta for intensive culture systems

Principal investigator: Puja Kumari, Scottish Association for Marine Science

Project partners: W.L Gore and Associates and SeaDyes

Top image:  Credit: MariusLtu, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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