Collaborative programmes


UK Aquaculture Initiative

The UK Aquaculture Initiative is a joint Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) initiative to support high-quality, innovative research and research translation within a growing community of people working together towards a mutual goal of developing a healthy, safe and sustainable UK aquaculture system.

By funding projects that incorporate both the environmental and biological sciences, this cross-research council initiative will bring together diverse expertise, knowledge, skills and facilities to deliver innovative approaches to solving industry challenges. In doing so, it will strengthen the research community to underpin the long-term needs of industry through interdisciplinary research, research translation, and the provision of training.

The initiative is focused on building the BBSRC- and NERC-funded aquaculture research community, linking it to supply chain and end-user companies and equipping the community to address industry research challenges. Funding was made available in the form of awards for research and innovation and networking.

Our aims

The Initiative aims to:

  • support high-quality, innovative, strategic research within UK higher education institutions and centres
  • build UK academic capability and underpinning capacity to meet the long term needs of industry
  • encourage cross-discipline working and draw in new researchers to the aquaculture sector
  • support the translation of existing research data and knowledge into new tools, technologies and solutions
  • ensure the exchange of knowledge between the academic science base and industry through the support of effective networking between academic groups and businesses
  • build a community of people working together towards a mutual goal of developing a healthy, safe and sustainable UK aquaculture system.

Research and innovation challenges

In-depth discussion with aquaculture companies identified a number of research areas important across the sector:

  • monitoring and control of health and disease
  • sustainable, nutritional feedstock
  • understanding and managing the effects of aquaculture on the environment
  • understanding and managing the effects of the environment on aquaculture
  • breeding and genetics approaches for stock enhancement
  • finfish welfare.

Three central themes were also identified across all the research challenges:

  • new facilities and technologies for monitoring and predicting risks, and to enhance the capacity of aquaculture
  • data sharing and management
  • safe food for human consumption.

UK Aquaculture Initiative: Innovation Projects

BBSRC and NERC invited proposals for innovation projects to the UK Aquaculture Initiative. Approximately £1.2 million was invested through this funding opportunity in 2018, with six projects funded to investigate areas of importance to the UK aquaculture industry and with the aim of creating sustainable and tangible economic or societal benefits. All these projects involve practitioners and end-users of the research, meaning that improvements can more easily be transferred to commercial environments, leading to greater impact of the research.

These projects are investigating challenges across the lifespan of a range of farmed species to improve their health and welfare as well as production efficiency and the sustainability of the system. They seek to achieve these aims by targeting specific pathogens, production systems and genetics of the farmed animals.

Aquaculture Research Collaborative Hub UK

BBSRC and NERC have committed £650,000 to support a collaborative network in aquaculture. The funding was awarded, through a competitive process, to the Aquaculture Research Collaborative Hub UK (ARCH-UK).

ARCH-UK fosters collaborative activities between academic researchers and business representatives at all career stages to identify and develop new approaches to tackle major research challenges and help deliver key benefits to the UK aquaculture sector. ARCH-UK is interdisciplinary, working across the boundaries of biological and environmental science and encouraging the participation of other disciplines including engineering, economics, social science, remote sensing and computational modelling.

ARCH-UK facilitates the development of a community of people who:

  • work together towards a mutual goal of sustainable aquaculture systems
  • work with the research councils to help ensure their investments supports high-quality, innovative research that builds UK academic capability and underpinning capacity, and meets the long term needs of the sector.


ARCH-UK works with a wide range of researchers and stakeholders from the aquaculture community to develop a strategic research and innovation agenda. This agenda will inform research council strategy in this area and future ARCH-UK activities.

ARCH-UK provides a central hub for information sharing, networking and engagement. They hold Annual Science Meetings to bring together researchers and stakeholders to discuss current and future aquaculture research. They also identify the need for workshops or training, and will organise events to address community needs.


All members of the aquaculture sector are encouraged to engage with ARCH-UK in order to receive news and updates, attend events and provide input on ARCH-UK activities.

You can join the Network or contact the ARCH-UK coordinators.


ARCH-UK is led by a management hub of grant holders and coordinators:

  • Professor Andrew Rowley – Swansea University (principal investigator)
  • Professor Brendan McAndrew – University of Stirling (principal investigator)
  • Professor Charles Tyler – University of Exeter (co-investigator)
  • Professor Sam Martin – University of Aberdeen (co-investigator)
  • Joanna Gosling – University of Stirling (ARCH-UK Coordinator)
  • Elizabeth Vancura – Swansea University (ARCH-UK Coordinator)


You can ask us any questions you may have.

Aquaculture Initiative


You can find out more information about ARCH-UK.

Luke Williams

Telephone: 01793 442197

Last updated: 27 July 2023

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