Animal Health and Aquaculture

There is a breadth of work in animal health across the Highlands and Islands, from academia, public sector and industry with expertise ranging from aquaculture (marine and freshwater) to farm and domestic animals. With a well established supply chain, the region provides an opportunity to be part of a thriving community.

Our science and expertise

A range of academic expertise supports the industry in the Highlands and Islands:

  • SRUC’s Epidemiology Research Unit is based at Inverness Campus. Its ground-breaking work contributes to animal and human disease control worldwide. Its interest in zoonosis focuses on Lyme borreliosis, Vero cytotoxin-producting Eschericia coli, and Toxoplasmosis. Professor George J. Gunn, Head of Epidemiology at SRUC, also serves as director of EPIC - the Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks. He said: “This is policy-led research and involves reacting very rapidly to news of outbreaks of disease in livestock. We include economics into our models for disease control to ensure decision-makers can find the best outcomes when dealing with a potentially devastating outbreak.” Read more here.
  • Marine Environmental Research Laboratory at Machrihanish in Kintyre is one of the largest and best equipped marine aquaculture research facilities in Europe. The facility provides contract research services and hire of facilities to industry and academic institutions, and supports research and teaching at the Institute of Aquaculture (University of Stirling).
  • Through UHI’s Lipodomics lab, based at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness, joint work is ongoing with University of Stirling’s Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).  The Lipodomics Research Facility carries out lipodomic and proteomic analysis in fish and algae and has particular expertise in fish proteomics, protein turnover in fish and lipid analysis of algae.
  • The Rivers and Lochs Institute, Inverness College UHI develops and delivers bespoke research, education and training to support management for change and adaptation in freshwater biodiversity. “We use molecular genetics to learn more about the nature of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems. This helps to inform actions and tools for managing them,” says Professor Eric Verspoor. Read more here.
  • The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) near Oban has particular expertise in the farming of seaweed, the interaction between aquaculture and the environment and the development of more sustainable and profitable fisheries.
  • NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Shetland delivers training and education, carries out research and development, and provides consultancy, advisory and other services for the maritime industries.


Connecting Business and Research

Inverness Campus and the European Marine Science Park provide a focus for collaboration across the sector and host state of the art facilities. 

SRUC, NHS Highland, the University of the Highlands and Islands UHI and private sector partners are working on the LymeMap project, funded by the European Space Agency. The collaborative project will produce a publicly available map of tick bite hotspots and Lyme disease. It will then be made available online and via an app, to help doctors diagnose Lyme disease and farmers, walkers and other outdoor users to avoid it.

Our businesses

This is a small selection of the animal health and aquaculture businesses in the Highlands and Islands region:

Patogen, a recent inward investor from Norway, provides preventative fish health services to fish farmers. Their Key Account Manager for the UK is located at Malin House, European Marine Science Park, Oban.

Scottish Vet Referral, the only dedicated veterinary ophthalmology centre in the North of Scotland, offers a unique service to the area: "Our custom-made facility on Inverness Campus is the dieal base for us. Being located here is also an exciting aopportunity to collaborate with academics and research scientists." Tony Wall, Veterinary Ophthalmologist and Partner, Vet Referrals.  

Aqua Pharma Ltd, part of the Aquatic Concept Group based in Norway, supplies the Scottish aquaculture industry with innovative treatments for the control of parasites.  “Our key product is Paramove, a licensed therapeutant for treating sea lice. We work collaboratively and invest in research and technology to provide effective treatment solutions.” Neil Crawford, Managing Director, Aqua Pharma Ltd

Fish Vet Group, part of the Benchmark Group, offer veterinary services, diagnostic technologies and environmental monitoring. Read more about them in our case study.


The Highlands and Islands is home to the majority of Scotland’s world-renowned aquaculture industry

HIE together with the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) offer funding to small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) to support the development of products and services in the aquaculture supply chain. As Donald Fowler, Business Development Manager at SAIC puts it: “Our whole raison d’etre is to solve industry problems. If our industry is going to grow, it needs to make technological advances. In everything we do, we try to work across disciplines, and with other research centres."

For more information on the sector please download our animal health brochure, the Inverness Campus leaflet and the European Marine Science Park brochure.