“We hope to make a number of other discoveries that will benefit fish health and welfare. These, in turn, could help to unlock the industry’s growth potential and deliver real economic benefit to Scottish aquaculture and beyond,” – Ian Armstrong, Pulcea
An innovative new project co-funded by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) under its Rapid Response scheme is exploring the potential of ultrasound to keep farmed salmon healthy and, in turn, increase harvest volumes.
Demand for Scottish salmon – a high-quality, low-fat source of protein that’s also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids – continues to grow both at home and abroad, currently outstripping supply.
If successful the six-month project, which brings together industry partner Pulcea with academic partners from the University of Dundee and the Institute of Aquaculture at University of Stirling, could see harvest volumes increase across the industry.
Heather Jones, CEO of the SAIC, said: “A key requirement for increasing the supply of Scottish farmed salmon is keeping fish healthy at each stage of the production lifecycle. By exploring ultrasound as an additional means of managing fish health and welfare, this innovative project has the potential to help salmon producers increase stocks and better meet consumer demand.”
Awarded grant funding of £39,467 by SAIC, the small-scale early-stage project seeks to quickly determine the ability of ultrasound to keep farmed salmon free from infection in a non-invasive and non-harmful way.
Explains Dr Paul Campbell of the University of Dundee: “We’re taking a technique that’s proven successful in human medicine and we’re carefully re-engineering it to explore its effectiveness in advancing fish health.”
If the preliminary results are positive, the industry-academia partnership intends to upscale the new treatment to a commercially-viable, environmentally sustainable solution with global reach.
Ian Armstrong, managing director of Pulcea, said: “As demand for salmon increases, the onus is on the aquaculture industry to find ways to maximise fish welfare and supply while minimising potential impacts on the environment. This project could be another important step towards achieving those goals.”
Increasing the supply of farmed Scottish salmon is just one of the anticipated outcomes of the project.
Armstrong added: “As we progress further into our research, we hope to make a number of other discoveries that will benefit fish health and welfare. These, in turn, could help to unlock the industry’s growth potential and deliver real economic benefit to Scottish aquaculture and beyond.”