Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre announced23 June, 2014 –
SCOTTISH minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, announced the launch of the much-anticipated Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) at a special meeting at the Royal Highland Show on Friday.
The SAIC will bring together industry and research to provide innovative solutions to industry-defined problems, with the aim of growing the already substantial contribution aquaculture makes to the Scottish economy.
Wheelhouse explained that the centre has been jointly funded by the Scottish Funding Council (in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise), with an initial cash injection of £11.1 million, a figure that has been matched by the industry.
An interim board has identified four key areas in which these resources will be focused: Sea lice control; alternative, sustainable feed; rapid detection of pathogens and disease; and the secure health of molluscs and the effective settlement of spat which will involve the establishment of a national hatchery.
The SAIC one of five such institutions in Scotland will be based at Stirling University, renowned as a world-class centre of aquaculture research.
The Centre will provide focused research to find innovative solutions to problems that the industry itself will identify. Jack Perry former CEO of Scottish Enterprise has been announced as the new chairman; the rest of the board will be chosen in due course.
Scottish aquaculture already contributes around £1.4 billion annually to the Scottish economy, and provides employment to 8,000 people.
The SAIC will undoubtedly help the industry to achieve the government targets of £2 billion and 10,000 jobs by 2020.
The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the industry and this investment illustrates that we are serious about investing in its sustainable growth through innovation, said Wheelhouse.
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, added: ‘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 the important industry through the application of high quality, innovative and problem solving science.’
Paul Wheelhouse (centre) with Jack Perry (right) and Laurence Howells