Sustainable aquaculture projects to create 600 jobs across Scotland

The Economic Impact Assessment, prepared by Frontline Consultants and independent economist Steve Westbrook, analyzed 60 SAIC-funded Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects.

The combined cost of these initiatives was found to be £52.7 million, 60 per cent of which was contributed by business partners in the aquaculture sector.

Supported by an expected increase in turnover of £50m a year by 2026, the projects will create 600 full-time jobs. These new positions are likely to be located primarily in rural and remote areas of Scotland, where well-paid, year-round skilled jobs are especially important to local communities.

Heather Jones, Executive Director of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Center (SAIC): “This report highlights the clear benefits of investing in innovation in aquaculture.”

About £30 million of additional turnover is directly related to the innovation centre.

SAIC has also raised about £10 million in external funding from British and European sources in the course of these projects.

The study found that overall, for every £4.67 allocated by SAIC to research projects, an additional £4.67 was received from aquaculture and other funding sources.

Heather Jones, Chief Executive of SAIC, said: “This report highlights the clear benefits of investing in aquaculture innovation and what SAIC is for: supporting increased economic impact while reducing environmental impact in UK aquaculture.

“The work we have funded has created new products and processes, improved fish health and well-being, created new business revenue streams, and even supported the growth of new companies, among other results.

“Perhaps just as important, the report demonstrates that our work has helped keep Scotland competitive in the global aquaculture sector and secure jobs in remote and rural communities,” she added.

One of the businesses that has received funding from SAIC is AquaGen Scotland. With support from the Innovation Centre, the company worked with the University of Stirling Aquaculture Institute, Scottish company Cooke Aquaculture and seafood manufacturer Dawnfresh to identify salmon biomarkers that indicate greater resistance to a bacterial infection called Flavobacterium psychrophilum.

A breakthrough in research has enabled AquaGen Scotland to begin selective breeding in Scotland that will produce salmon with greater natural resistance to bacteria and will supply the first caviar selected for resistance in early 2021.

Andrew Reeve, Managing Director of AquaGen Scotland, said: “The genetic markers we discovered during the project are a valuable tool in our breeding work and have enabled us to develop a new product with significant benefits for fish health and welfare.

“SAIC has been instrumental in bringing this work forward and has brought us together with the right academic and industry experts to achieve a new research milestone.”

Jones added: “The project with AquaGen Scotland highlights the broad benefits that investment in research and development can bring not only to directly involved companies but to the wider sector. Through collaboration, we can address the industry’s major challenges and establish Scotland as a center of excellence for innovation in aquaculture.”

The center has a mission to “transform aquaculture, unlocking sustainable growth through innovative excellence.”

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