Sustainable aquaculture: Enabling innovation and implementation

4 August 2022

On the 20th of June representatives from the aquaculture sector, academia, environmental and governmental organisations took part in a virtual round table discussion co-hosted by SAIC and Innogen on how best to implement innovations that will improve the sustainability of aquaculture.

Innogen’s Founding Director, Professor Joyce Tait, opened the meeting by presenting Innogen’s recent report on fish farming in Scotland, funded by the Open University in Scotland, and policy brief, which offer a series of recommendations for governments and other stakeholders to optimise the contribution of salmon farming to climate and environmental policies.

Participants agreed on the need to work together (across the sector and with regulators) to create a policy environment that supports the innovations required to meet Net Zero targets and protect biodiversity. Key areas in which innovation could have a big impact include feed, waste recycling, facilities and animal health.

The use of novel sustainable aqua-feed ingredients, such as single cell protein and insects, has the greatest potential to contribute to both Net Zero and biodiversity goals. Some of these ingredients are now beginning to be available in commercial quantities, but generally production needs to be scaled up. Growing more crops for feed locally was also proposed as an approach to support the sustainable growth of aquaculture in Scotland.

Zero Waste Scotland is working with companies to identify waste uses that support a circular economy. Segregating waste streams and modelling different scenarios can help optimise each waste stream.

Improvements in animal health will enhance survivability and reduce overall waste. Research into advanced disease surveillance systems, vaccines and genetic technologies can contribute to reducing the burden of disease, decreasing the need for pharmaceuticals, and making aquaculture more efficient.

The development of hydrogen-fuelled vessels for servicing fish farms and establishing an innovation site on which the sector and academia could collaboratively explore new opportunities were also suggested as valuable avenues to pursue.

Thanks to the positive engagement of all participants, the session was very productive, marking the start of a more frequent dialogue to stimulate positive change and potentially unlock some of the regulatory and policy challenges facing the growth of the sector.

Joyce Tait, Founding Director of Innogen at The University of Edinburgh, said:We’re grateful to all those who contributed to this workshop. It feels like there is a real appetite for collaboration among key players from across the aquaculture sector that now needs to be harnessed to benefit not only the Scottish economy but also aid the delivery of climate change and biodiversity policies.”

Sarah Riddle, Director of innovation & engagement at SAIC, said:Innovation will be critical to delivering an even more sustainable aquaculture sector, reducing its environmental impact while increasing production to meet the needs of a growing global population. I was delighted to help host and take part in the discussion, bringing together a wide set of participants with an interest in aquaculture and setting out a variety of positive steps we can all take towards building a collaborative future for the sector.