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Institute of Aquaculture

Created to ensure our aquatic resources are flourishing, sustainable and protected, the Institute of Aquaculture is the leading international centre in its field

Keeping our aquatic environments healthy

With the world’s appetite for seafood and fish growing year on year, it’s more important than ever to keep our aquatic environments sustainable and healthy. The University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture was founded in 1971, and is focused on meeting the challenges of an evolving aquaculture industry. Its research looks to answer vital questions such as how to develop strategies for sustainable aquaculture and aquatic food security, how to inform modern commercial markets and how to support communities in developing countries so they have enough to eat.

The Institute carries out fundamental research on reproduction, genetics, aquatic animal health and welfare, behaviour, nutrition, production systems, environments, markets, and social and economic impacts.

“Scotland’s aquaculture industry is predominately located in the Highlands and Islands, and we carry out much of our research and training from sites across the region,” explains Professor Herve Migaud, Acting Director of the Institute of Aquaculture.

“Aquaculture is one of HIE’s key priorities, and we’ve had a lot of engagement with them over the years. They have been involved in a lot of what we do at Machrihanish, investing capital for some of our facilities and match funding proposals. Likewise we continue to support them in the development of the Argyll and Bute area by providing input into initiatives such as the Rural Deal.

“We share HIE’s goal of encouraging inward investment into the aquaculture sector. For example, we were really pleased that HIE hosted the first Scottish pavilion at the AquaNor conference in 2017. We loved being part of it – it was great to showcase Scotland’s aquaculture industry on a global stage.”

With the Highlands and Islands home to much of the aquaculture sector, it’s no surprise that the Institute of Aquaculture works across the region, with some of its key research and training facilities based there, and many of its projects on the west coast and Shetland. The Institute leads significant research projects to support the aquaculture industry in addressing challenges such as parasite control and environmental issues.

“Our main research station and experimentation base, the Marine Environmental Research Laboratory (MERL), is at Machrihanish in the west of Scotland,” explains Professor Migaud.

“MERL is one of the largest and best-equipped marine aquaculture research facilities in the UK. We do a lot of research there into issues such as sea lice control. It’s the only site in the UK with a sea lice farm, hosting selected lice strains to enable us to develop a better understanding of lice biology. We also carry out research into larvae, early stages of marine fish, nutritional and behavioural aspects.

With our main marine station and experimentation base located in the west coast of Scotland, and other interests elsewhere in the Highlands and Islands, we carry out much of our essential research from the region.
Professor Herve Migaud, Institute of Aquaculture