UK collaboration could see stocks of farmed Scottish salmon increase

Friday 29th September, 2017

A project to address one of the key challenges faced by Scotland’s salmon farmers is underway, supported by grant funding from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and UK research council BBSRC.

Saprolegnia – a type of water mould that can harm fish eggs and juvenile fish – is thought to significantly reduce stocks at Scotland’s salmon farms every year.

Now, a multi-partner cross-sector collaboration is seeking to minimise those losses and boost the availability of farmed Scottish salmon by compiling a ‘big data’ resource that will increase understanding of Saprolegnia and its causative factors.

The project, ‘Risk factors for escalating saprolegniosis outbreaks in salmon farms’ (RIFE-SOS), is led by acclaimed scientist Professor Pieter van West, Director of the International Centre for Aquaculture Research and Development at the University of Aberdeen.

The project brings together the knowledge of eight aquaculture companies with the expertise of leading academics at the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow to develop an information toolkit on how to pre-empt and control occurrence of the disease.

Professor Marian Scott and Dr Claire Miller will be working with the team to develop and use advanced statistical models for the observational data to better understand the drivers and pressures that impact the disease risk.
The £1.1m project is supported by £340,285 grant funding from the BBSRC Link initiative, with the remaining £732,628 of the project cost coming from industry and SAIC. The RSPCA and Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation are also involved, providing support and guidance to partners.

The full RIFE-SOS project partnership includes: Benchmark; Cooke Aquaculture Scotland; Europharma; Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK; Landcatch Natural Selection; Marine Harvest Scotland; Pulcea; RSPCA, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre; Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation; Scottish Sea Farms; the University of Aberdeen; and the University of Glasgow.