The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) will bring together industry and research to provide innovative solutions with the aim of growing the already substantial contribution aquaculture makes to the Scottish economy.
Growth in production will bring with it significant benefits in terms of infrastructure and research, and support employment and economic wellbeing of many fragile rural communities across Scotland. Industry estimates suggest that every additional 10,000 tonnes of salmon create an additional £96 million for the Scottish economy.
The recently published independent report ‘An Assessment of the Benefits to Scotland of Aquaculture’ highlighted the industry already contributes up to £1.4 billion each year to the Scottish economy and 8,000 jobs in Scotland.
The SAIC will focus on areas such as fish and shellfish health and welfare; feeding, quality and nutrition; breeding and stock improvement and engineering to contribute towards increased production of clean, safe and sustainable food.
The centre has been jointly funded by the Scottish Funding Council (in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise), and matched by the Scottish aquaculture industry.
The SAIC will be headquartered at the University of Stirling and will have a local delivery centre in the Western Highlands. Public sector funding will be channelled through the University of Stirling acting as Administrative Hub on behalf of the SAIC
Launching the new centre at the Royal Highland Show the Environment and Climate change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The aquaculture industry is increasingly important to the Scottish economy supporting employment in many fragile rural communities. If the industry’s 2020 sustainable production targets are met this could mean a turn-over value of £2 billion to the Scottish economy every year and the on-going support of 10,000 jobs.
“For this to be fully realised, the sector must continue to demonstrate its commitment to improved environmental performance and sustainable growth; aided by a research and academic community that is well positioned to underpin the sustainable that development of the sector.
“The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the industry and this investment illustrates we are serious about investing in its sustainable growth through innovation.
“The SAIC will help the academic and research community understand the needs of the industry and help the industry understand the assistance that can be delivered through research.
“Innovation Centres are large-scale, ambitious projects of excellence. They are part of a cultural shift that is necessary to bring the innovation and creativity we want to see at the heart of our businesses.”
Laurence Howells, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The aquaculture industry is so important for Scotland – Scottish salmon, trout and shellfish are famous all over the world and the business has huge untapped potential. This Centre can help the industry to exploit university research, boosting the economy and creating long-term employment, particularly in rural communities. I am delighted that our £100 million-plus programme of Innovation Centres continues with £11 million in Scottish Aquaculture.”
Jack Perry, Chair of the SAIC Board, said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead this important and exciting new collaboration between Scotland's fish and shellfish farmers. Scotland has an enviable reputation across the world for the quality of its farmed seafood. The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre will focus on growing and developing this important industry through the application of high quality, innovative and problem solving science.”
Chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, Scott Landsburgh said: “The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre brings together industry and public sector investment with the knowledge and expertise of Scotland’s research and academic community. This will create opportunities to help industry grow and develop sustainably by improving efficiencies and profitability of the sector. This is a very exciting time for the Scottish salmon farming industry.”