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Science and Research Working Group

A Science and Research Working Group (S&RWG) was established under the auspices of the Ministerial Group for Sustainable Aquaculture (MGSA) in 2013. It’s remit is to co-ordinate and help prioritise research requirements as identified by the MGSA Working Groups and Task groups towards delivery of the aquaculture 2020 sustainable growth targets and take a long term strategic view.

The group is Chaired by Mark James, Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) with membership drawn from the MASTS Sustainable Aquaculture Forum - which represents the majority of the scientific capacity in Scotland. The Forum’s Steering Group, an independent scientific body, was extended to include other key stakeholders for the purposes of delivery the S&RWG remit. Individuals on S&RWG with relevant expertise were charged with convening (9) small Task Groups of relevant experts to contribute to the process of identifying potential research requirements: Nutrition; Stock improvement; Health & welfare; Food safety & hygiene; Technology and engineering; Wild-farmed Interactions; Markets, economics & social science; Capacity; Blue biotechnology/growth.

Update on Group’s agreed deliverables for 2013-14:

  • Building on SARF’s comprehensive database of UK Aquaculture related R&D projects 1999 - 2013, produce an updated database of current aquaculture research in EU, UK and Scotland, published on the SARF website in October.
  • The National Aquaculture Research Strategy was published on 15th July 2014. Copies can be downloaded at:
  • Hard copies of the strategy were distributed directly to named individuals in all of the main UK and EU sponsors of aquaculture related research together with organisations involved in influencing the allocation of research funding.
  • Informal feedback from representatives involved in the recent NERC and BBSRC calls for aquaculture related proposals suggests that the document has been a welcome addition to the evidence base on which the call was framed.
  • Joint BBSRC-NERC call worth £2.5m for multidisciplinary proposals in sustainable aquaculture: health, disease, and the environment opened on 8/9/2014 with a deadline for submission of proposals by 4th November 2014.
  • Seven priority areas were highlighted in the call:
    • Mechanisms of disease (including parasites) infection and spread, including host-pathogen and environmental interactions
    • Biology of health and disease resistance (including gut health and genetic resistance, effects of intensification)
    • Immunology of infection and protection, including vaccinology
    • Tools, methods and technologies for diagnostics, experimental resources, and environmental systems
    • New technologies for monitoring and predicting weather and climate-related hazards and risks to the expanding aquaculture sector as it moves into environments more exposed to wind and waves
    • Determining interactions between wild and farmed fish
    • Assessing the long-term environmental capacity for increased aquaculture production
  • Applications will be assessed by an expert panel in January 2015.
  • Where ever possible, the strategy is being disseminated to key influencers and decision makers. At a recent DEFRA led workshop to identify priorities for shellfish research a NERC representative gave a presentation highlighting the MGSA S&R Strategy as a template that could be used to influence funding calls.
  • In approximately 12 months, it would be useful to review the extent to which the key aquaculture related R&D sponsors are actually supporting projects that address priority areas of research highlighted in the MGSA S&R Strategy.
  • Continued effort will be required to better align the allocation of funds for aquaculture related research with industry needs whilst developing the capacity required for Scotland to secure its position as an internationally recognised centre for underpinning research in this sector.

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