The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has been awarded £250,000 from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (Defra) to create a new skills initiative which will be free to access for some 1,800 sector professionals and students. Developed in collaboration with Lantra, the sector skills council for aquaculture, and the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences (SAMS), the programme will be boosted by an additional £105,000 of funding provided by SAIC.
The initiative aims to ensure that all finned fish producers are following standard operating procedures for detecting and reporting harmful algal blooms (HABs) in open coastal waters, leading to more effective monitoring and reporting that can be shared across the entire sector. A better understanding of any patterns will help to inform predictive models and early-warning systems.
The content of the training will be guided by an advisory group encompassing representatives from government agencies, regulators and the sector, including individuals from Salmon Scotland, seafood producer Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms and the British Trout Association.
Jillian Couto-Phoenix, head of skills and talent at SAIC, said: “Unfortunately, HABs are a by-product of a changing climate, and as global sea temperatures continue to rise, it is only going to become more important that fish health and environmental professionals working in the sector have the skills and knowledge they need to monitor and report on incidents as they occur.”
In 2021, the reported cost of the required measures to treat fish and recover from an HAB incident was around £6 million for a single site.