Tech focus for new Scottish aquaculture funding

An aquaculture operation based in Scotland at sunset.

Three new innovation projects expected to start this summer aim to deliver positive economic impacts and reduce the environmental footprint of aquaculture in Scotland.

The projects have received funding totaling GBP 1.1 million (USD 1.4 million, EUR 1.3 million) from Scottish aquaculture businesses, and have also secured more than GBP 350,000 (USD 437,636, EUR 410,414) from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

Two of the projects will cover technology-led environmental monitoring, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI), 3D modelling, and image-collecting via remotely operated vehicles (ROVs); while the third focuses on the role of cleaner fish as an effective, sustainable treatment for sea lice.

Proposals were assessed by SAIC’s Independent Scientific Panel (SISP) against key priority areas for the aquaculture sector, including continued improvement in fish biology and regeneration and environmental practices.

SAIC CEO Heather Jones said that while technology adoption has increased rapidly across the sector, there is still a “huge opportunity” to use more data-led, intelligent systems to inform better decision making.

Greater use of AI, imaging, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for applications such as monitoring and mapping of the seabed could be transformative for reducing the sector’s environmental impact and supporting future regulation requirements, she said.

“Driving improved sustainability, fish health and wellbeing is another area crucial to the growth and development of aquaculture," Jones said. "Through collaborative research in the sector’s core priority areas, we can unlock additional capacity for sustainable seafood production, with Scotland at the forefront of significant developments across the whole supply chain.”

To date SAIC has been involved in more than 60 collaborative projects with a combined value of GBP 52.7 million (USD 65.9 million, EUR 61.8 million).

A recent economic impact assessment produced by Frontline Consultants showed that projects funded by the innovation centre between its inception and February 2021 would collectively deliver additional turnover of GBP 50 million (USD 62.5 million, EUR 58.6 million) per annum for the companies involved by 2026.

Photo courtesy of Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre


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