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Welsh aquaculture in the spotlight

WALES may be a small country, but as a leading force in sustainable aquaculture a number of pioneering Welsh companies are set for significant growth in 2007.

Welsh companies have established a worldwide reputation in the industry, having used the World Aquaculture shows as a platform, and as natural fish stocks deplete rapidly, their work is becoming ever more important.

A number of these companies will be once again showcasing their achievements at World Aquaculture, Texas, with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government's overseas trade and investment arm, International Business Wales (IBW).

One of Wales's aquaculture pioneers is Dr Robin Shields, research director at Aquaculture Wales (AqWa), which is dedicated to developing and transferring sustainable aquaculture solutions through innovative R&D, advocacy, education, training and consultancy services, will be attending.

Aqua provides applied research services from its base at the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research, a state-of-the-art controlled environment facility utilising water recirculation technology.

Robin said: "AqWa has grown and developed since the last show: we've taken on three more specialist research staff as well as support staff, greatly enhancing our skills base and potential. We feel we're in a great position now, and believe this year will see us consolidate our position."

Meanwhile, Llyn Aquaculture Ltd, which specialises in the design and installation hatchery and on-growing recirculation system units for both marine and freshwater species, has also had considerable success in recent months. In fact, since it started attending the shows, it has seen an average of 50 per cent growth each year this will be its fourth show.

Llyn Aquaculture's technical director, Dr Mark Rigby, said: "At this year's show we will be showcasing an Arctic Charr farm in Ireland that was recently completed. It's the largest re-circulating farm in the country, and the fish are doing well, with a food conversion ratio of 1.1: 1.2.

"We'll also be talking people through a new version of our specialised recirculation equipment a "High Volume, Low Head Pump", and plan to unveil our new Oxygen Monitoring and Control system, which monitors conditions and displays results through a graphics programme, and has the potential to be viewed remotely via the internet."

"IBW's support at shows like this is very important, as it allows us to build a network and develop long-term relationships. For example, a shrimp farm in Greece is under discussion at the moment, and we picked up that lead from a show. There's also an Iranian contact we've met over several shows, and we've only recently started discussing a project. In an industry like ours where everything is customised and designed those long-term contacts are essential."

"Similarly at Bali World Aquaculture we got the opportunity to meet a Norwegian company. We'd been in contact with them for some time, but at the event we got the chance to meet face-to-face, and this culminated in a 40,000 deal.

Also present on the Wales stand will be Fishgen Ltd, which is based at the University of Wales Swansea. It develops high performing fish for aquaculture production and aims to commercialise and promote products developed under research programmes on genetic improvement of fish species for aquaculture worldwide.

It currently has exciting negotiations underway to set up new Fishgen partnerships in India and China, and is planning a targeted sales and marketing campaign in the Middle East.

One of Wales's high profile success stories, fish-food producer Dragon Feeds has also gone from strength-to-strength since it attended the Aquaculture show last May. The company's unique worm-based (polychaete) feed, which offers a 100 per cent maturation diet, is taking the lead in the international sustainable feed industry. Subsequently, Dragon Feeds is predicted to turnover 300 million and have a staff of 4,000 in just six years' time.

Tony Smith, MD of Dragon Feeds said: "Polychaetes meet with the industry's need to develop sustainable food sources to address the increasing cost and limited availability of conventional food sources. We are able to produce polychaetes in large volumes and, as they are near the bottom of the marine food pyramid and can be fed on land-based protein and oil sources, they can be converted into forms that are readily acceptable to cultured species in aquaculture."

the Fish Site Editor

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