Accelerating aquaculture development while minimising its environmental impact.
LINK Aquaculture was sponsored by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scottish Executive, Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) and NERC. These organisations put in £5.15m. Industry contributed a minimum of 50 per cent to the cost of each project, taking the total investment in LINK Aquaculture to over £10m.
The majority of NERC-supported research was into quantifying or minimising the environmental impact of aquaculture. For example, researchers investigated reducing the use of chemical treatments for diseases, collecting and disposing of waste from freshwater cage aquaculture, and the environmental impacts and sustainability of mussel cultivation.
A number of LINK Aquaculture projects attracted commercial interest. Examples include:
- A major salmon farming company set up a selective breeding programme based on a molecular marker developed by the programme.
- There is commercial interest in developing sea urchin mariculture.
- A protocol has been developed for cultivating lumpfish and processing their flesh and roe.
- SEPA and the aquaculture industry have adopted the DEPOMOD model (which looks at organic impacts and benthic effects of aquaculture) to help derive acceptable discharge levels for large-scale salmon cage culture.
- Studies of salmon muscle development have been used to improve flesh quality.