Led by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), the research will focus on lumpsuckers, a species that eats sea lice, a parasite that feeds on both wild and farmed salmon.
The SAIC has awarded a grant worth £817,473 to a project – valued at £2.44m in total – that aims to establish a secure and sustainable supply of lumpfish for Scottish salmon farms. Other contributions are coming from five commercial partners – Benchmark Animal Health, BioMar, Marine Harvest Scotland, Otter Ferry Seafish and The Scottish Salmon Company – as well as the University of Stirling. Heading the research will be a team from the university’s Institute of Aquaculture.
The second project, again conducted by the Institute of Aquaculture, aims to improve the welfare of lumpfish deployed in Scottish salmon farms, through a detailed analysis of the challenges facing them when they are raised in hatcheries and deployed in salmon pens. SAIC has awarded a grant worth £120,680 to the £475,851 project. Along with the University of Stirling, it involves six commercial partners – Cooke Aquaculture, Grieg Seafood Shetland, FAI Aquaculture, Fish Vet Group, The Scottish Salmon Company and Scottish Sea Farms.
SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: “The commercial use of cleaner fish has been identified as one of the most promising ways to address sea lice control in the Scottish salmon industry.
“By investing in and accelerating projects like these, which meet the needs of the industry, we aim to increase the productivity and sustainability of salmon farms across the nation. These projects bring together the best academic and industry expertise to drive innovation forwards.”
The SAIC’s latest projects follow its award of £117,000 in August to Aqualife, a family-owned business based in Stirling, for a research project to develop new vaccination techniques aimed at protecting wrasse and lumpfish.