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New UK Research into Improving Sustainable Aquaculture Announced

23 June 2015

UK - Twenty one new research projects recently announced in the UK will help to improve understanding of the factors affecting sustainable aquaculture and help build a multidisciplinary community.

More than twenty new research projects have been awarded funding to address key challenges to the aquaculture sector. The proposals will focus on farming or cultivation in finfish, molluscs and crustaceans.

The programme primarily aims to build capacity across the aquaculture research sector, with multidisciplinary projects spanning bioscience and environmental science. The funded projects will also seek to expand the uptake of new tools and technologies in priority areas.

The aquaculture sector provides a vital role in feeding a growing population, set to reach 9 billion by 2020. In the UK, the value of aquaculture in producing finfish such as salmon and sea trout is worth around £580M per year and rising.

Challenges to the industry such as disease and parasite infections affecting farmed stock have a devastating impact.

£5 million of funding has been awarded from BBSRC and NERC to support the programme which will focus on key challenges to the industry such as disease, parasite infections and climate-related changes.

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC’s Science Director said: “To help ensure sustainable aquaculture stocks for society and the economy, a broad research base is needed to understand the biology and health of farmed species.

"Research focusing on the interactions between industry and the ecosystem is crucial to ensure sustainable production of this healthy and nutritious food source.”

The projects funded under this call also received support from co-funders Centre for the Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas), Marine Scotland Science and the Scottish Government.

Some projects receiving funding include 'Predicting benthic chemistry around marine fish farms', 'Verifying the reproductive potential of triploid farm Atlantic salmon' and 'Gut health and immune function: the emerging role of gut microbiota in sustainable aquaculture'.

In addition, eleven new research projects to improve animal health and welfare have recently been funded as part of the a funding call for the Animal Health and Welfare ERA-Net (ANIHWA) programme.

Of these research projects, six were funded by BBSRC.

ANIHWA is a European programme consisting of partner organisations from 19 different European countries, including Israel.

The programme aims to increase cooperation and coordination of national research programmes on animal health and the welfare of farmed animals including fish and bees.

The projects funded by BBSRC focus on the threats to animal health and welfare such as infectious diseases, as well as new tools and technologies to improve welfare.

The funded projects included 'Sustainable management of aquaculture fish health through the development of low cost plant-derived vaccines' and 'Prevalence and optimised detection of resistance to antibiotics vital for animal and human health'.

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