Project applications are due by 19 June 2024.

Project applications are due by 19 June 2024.

SAIC to support new fish health and welfare projects after £1.5m boost

The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has secured a funding package of £1.5 million from the Scottish Government to advance its research and development efforts in fish health and welfare.

The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has received a new funding package totaling £1.5 million from the Scottish Government to advance its research and development efforts in fish health and welfare.

The funding includes £500,000 from the Scottish Government’s Marine Fund Scotland and an additional £1 million of transitional funding from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

SAIC invites applications for new projects by 19 June

With this funding, SAIC is launching a call for new projects, particularly those focused on finfish health and welfare, with applications due by 19 June 2024.

At least £800,000 will be available for projects addressing gill health, climate change impacts like algal blooms and micro-jellyfish, and other emerging health issues, with a focus on preventative technologies.

SAIC officials say the financial boost will enable the centre to build upon a decade of impactful work, having already supported over 100 projects that turned £10 million of investment into research worth over £71 million.

These initiatives have also resulted in new spin-out companies, products, and innovative solutions to industry-wide challenges.

SAIC's focus "aligned to the aquaculture sector's priorities"

Key officials, including Mairi Gougeon, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, and David Gregory, the chair of SAIC, endorsed the development.

“SAIC is one of Scotland’s success stories, having played a significant role in supporting innovation and development in aquaculture," Gougeon said in a press announcement.

"We are now supporting SAIC to move to a refreshed and updated role that will ensure it and Scottish aquaculture have a bright future. The need to make aquaculture sustainable and the rewards for doing so have never been greater nor more urgent."

“The funding provided by the Scottish Government and SFC will allow SAIC’s vital work to continue. The model of combining funding from the sector and government, which has underpinned our work over the past decade, is now very well established and has delivered a broad range of positive outcomes in aquaculture," added Gregory. 

“SAIC’s more concentrated remit is aligned to the sector’s priorities, and we look forward to fostering greater collaboration on R&D projects to tackle the most pressing health and welfare challenges faced by the fish farming community," he said.

Fish health and welfare key for sustainable growth, says trade body

The funding boost was also welcomed by Scottish aquaculture sector trade body, Salmon Scotland.

“Scotland’s salmon sector welcomes SAIC’s sharpened focus on research and development in fish health and welfare. This is a top priority for our members and will help to drive the sustainable growth of salmon as the UK’s number one food export," said Salmon Scotland CEO, Tavish Scott

“It is important that the Scottish Government continues to fund SAIC and play its part in supporting the Scottish salmon farming sector to operate in the most sustainable way possible. As the government’s own aquaculture vision made clear, the blue economy can increase food security at home and feed the growing global population," he added.

Further details on the funding opportunity are available on SAIC's website.

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