Experts look to strike the right balance for salmon gill health
Scottish researchers will explore the geographical, temporal and nutritional factors that affect salmon’s gill health across sites in Scotland and Tasmania, Australia.
A research group in Scotland is embarking on a project that could enhance fish health and wellbeing by significantly improving the global aquaculture sector’s understanding and treatment of gill disease. The consortium, which comprises of Scottish Sea Farms, the University of Aberdeen, BioMar, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and Marine Scotland Science, is exploring the geographical, temporal and nutritional factors that affect salmon’s gill health across sites in Scotland and Tasmania, Australia.
Gill health is one of aquaculture’s biggest challenges and, therefore, a major focus of research efforts. Warming seas and the progressive de-oxygenation of water caused by climate change are reinforcing the need for a greater understanding of the disease, along with its prevention and treatment.
Gill health is understood to be influenced by a broad set of factors – ranging from site-specific variables and fish diet to water temperature and oxygenation levels. The consortium’s project will aim to find the optimum balance for each measure to promote good health and improve natural resistance to gill conditions among salmon.
Supporting the Scottish Government’s 10-Year Farmed Fish Health Framework, the project will also create a set of biomarkers to monitor gill disease, develop new diagnostic tools that could minimize individual interpretation of results and explore the production of feeds to alleviate poor gill health.
“Gill health is among the foremost challenges facing aquaculture across all salmon-producing regions of the world. The project is about finding a way of using the vast amounts of data collected to create the right balance of conditions for salmon, enhancing their resilience. On top of that, the development of biomarkers and new feeds could act as a significant boost to fish health and wellbeing, and our overall understanding of this complex disease,” said Caroline Griffin, aquaculture innovation manager at SAIC.