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Aquaculture patent applications hit new high

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
28 November 2017, at 4:32pm

The number of aquaculture-related patent applications being made in Scotland is dramatically increasing, according to leading intellectual property (IP) specialists.

The sector fights a constant battle to maintain the health and quality of farmed produce. The control of sea lice alone is thought to cost the country’s salmon farming industry in the region of £30 million a year. However IP experts Marks & Clerk said the issues are driving the country’s academics and producers to find new and innovative solutions to fight back.

Patent attorney RIchard Gibbs has seen a substantial rise in aquaculture-related patent applications
Patent attorney RIchard Gibbs has seen a substantial rise in aquaculture-related patent applications

Richard Gibbs, patent attorney in the firm’s Glasgow office, said he is now dealing with more aquaculture patents than ever before.

“As fish farming and aquaculture evolve, the technology employed to overcome problems – and the IP which protects that technology– becomes all the more innovative and important,” he explains.

“Scotland’s natural resources and farming expertise ensure that Scotland excels in this industry and we are now at the forefront of those innovations which are providing solutions to major problems,” Richard adds.

A report published this month by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) showed employment in the Scottish salmon farming industry is up by 13 per cent.

Capital investment is sitting at a healthy £63 million, with over £390 million being spent last year in the Scottish supply chain.

The boost is being particularly felt in the Highlands and Islands – where the SSPO said £164 million was spent with local businesses, while wages increased by five per cent to a total of almost £75 million.

It was also recently announced that a consortium led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is conducting a science and innovation audit to look at the potential of the region to become a major player in the UK marine economy.

Richard said Scottish solutions and technologies are already being exported to fish farming countries across the globe.

“Scotland is an absolute hub for innovation and research,” he said. “Solutions developed here are being pushed out to farmers all over the world – to South America, Asia and Scandinavia.

“We have expertise in aquaculture, vaccines, anti-parasitic compounds and hatcheries. As a firm we represent almost every discipline. It is a buoyant industry, and intellectual property is prevalent throughout.”