The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) will support three new innovation projects that aim to deliver economic impact and reduce the environmental footprint of aquaculture, following its latest call for research initiatives.
Valued at a combined £1.1m, the three projects have secured more than £350,000 funding from SAIC with additional support from businesses operating in Scottish aquaculture. Two of the successful projects will cover technology-led environmental monitoring, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI), 3D modelling and image-collecting remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), while the third focuses on the role of cleaner fish as an effective, sustainable treatment for sea lice.
‘In recent years technology adoption across the sector has increased rapidly, but there is still a huge opportunity to use more data-led, intelligent systems to inform better decision making. Greater use of AI, imaging and 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,’ said Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC.
‘Driving improved sustainability, fish health and wellbeing is another area crucial to the growth and development of aquaculture. 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.’
The three newly funded projects are expected to commence this summer and will combine expertise from some of the sector’s best-known businesses and leading academic researchers from Scottish universities. 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.
The latest funding awards build on SAIC’s work to date, covering more than 60 collaborative projects with a combined value of £52.7 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 £50 million per annum for the companies involved by 2026.
Overall, for every £1 of SAIC funding granted to research projects during this period, a further £4.67 has been sourced from businesses in the aquaculture sector and other funding sources.