A rapidly increasing global population, climate change and intensified pressure upon vital resources are collectively threatening global food security.
By 2030, 62% of fish eaten by humans is expected to be produced from aquaculture. In the UK, aquaculture is a key strategic food production sector, as production from UK aquaculture is the largest in the European Union. Sustainable expansion of the UK industry requires improved understanding of the basic biology, health and environmental interactions of farmed finfish and shellfish. In recognition of this importance, NERC and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as contributors to the UK Global Food Security (GSF) programme, are acting to turn around the declining investment made by research councils in recent years.
Working with industry
In March 2015, NERC and BBSRC brought breeders, producers, processors, diagnostics and vaccine developers and retailers across the finfish and shellfish sectors together with a small number of academic experts to discuss industry priorities. There were significant outputs from this workshop, detailed in the workshop report below, which contributed to the development of the UK Aquaculture Initiative.
Joint NERC-BBSRC research funding call
In September 2014, NERC and BBSRC announced a Sustainable Aquaculture call for collaborative proposals to support aquaculture-related research. The total funding available for this call was £6 million, with BBSRC and NERC each committing £2·5 million. Additional co-funding from the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Marine Scotland and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) was available to cover the costs of their researchers on proposals. In addition, the Food Standard Agency (FSA) and FSA in Scotland considered co-funding contributions on a case-by-case basis for projects that aligned with their policy objectives relating to food safety.
More information on the call and funded grants can be found on the Sustainable Aquaculture research programme page.