The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) is to plough more than £100,000 of support into two projects aimed at improving the quality of feed for farmed salmon.
The first of the initiatives – involving feed producer BioMar, supermarket chain Morrisons, raw materials supplier Saria and the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, is tasked with identifying alternative protein sources that are sourced locally and have a low environmental impact.
Global salmon-feed production currently relies on three major sources of protein – soy meal, fish meal and animal protein – but the UK industry has a higher reliance on ingredients from marine and imported vegetable sources. The project will explore the use of protein from poultry, which has gained a foothold in the Australian and Chilean salmon-farming sectors.
Huw Thomas, fisheries and aquaculture manager at Morrisons, said: “If this concept proves acceptable to our customers, we could change our feed ingredient policy.”
The second project will see nutrition specialist Alltech partner with the University of Glasgow, seafood giant Marine Harvest and Norwegian aquaculture research institute Nofima examine how intestinal microbes can help improve inefficient digestion in salmon, which is linked to poor growth.
John Sweetman, Alltech’s international project manager for aquaculture, said: “The potential for improving feed efficiency and maintaining optimal health status will benefit the industry and consumer alike.”
Announcing the £360,055 projects – of which SAIC will contribute £101,644 – rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Salmon is Scotland’s single biggest food export and adds considerable value to our economy as a whole. Projects like these not only help the industry to grow economically but bring value through jobs, sustainability and environmental benefits.
“I want to see finfish and shellfish aquaculture continue to thrive, growing sustainably and led by world-leading science, innovation and research. I welcome the contribution of SAIC, in partnership with both industries.”
The projects follow the recent announcement that SAIC will be providing almost £250,000 in funding for two other initiatives aimed at improving biodiversity and fish health in farming.
Chief executive Heather Jones said: “The Scottish Aquaculture 2030 Vision for Growth group aims to double aquaculture’s contribution to the economy by 2030. In order to deliver such ambitious growth, the industry needs to develop new, innovative technologies which change the way in which we work.”