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Robust-Smolt project to improve salmon in RAS systems

The project, that involves 14 institutions and organizations, will compare the robustness and susceptibility of Atlantic salmon to pathogens when reared in recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS), used in fish farming to reduce the need for fresh, clean water while maintaining a healthy environment for fish.

March 14, 2019

A new ÂŁ2 million project, Robust-Smolt, aims to provide important information on the impact of innovative farming technologies on salmon. This project, that involves 14 institutions and organizations, will compare the robustness and susceptibility of Atlantic salmon to pathogens when reared in recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS), used in fish farming to reduce the need for fresh, clean water while maintaining a healthy environment for fish.

Herve Migaud, Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, is the principal researcher of the project that is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council under the UK Aquaculture Initiative, and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. Migaud said that the rapid global expansion of the salmon industry has been made possible through the adoption of new farming technologies, including contained systems such as RAS, and husbandry regimes.

“These systems have clear advantages over land-based flow through and freshwater loch systems, and young salmon produced in RAS under manipulated regimes, such as constant temperature and light, reach larger sizes and can be transferred to sea water earlier than ever before. However, our knowledge of the impact of these new rearing systems have on salmon physiology is very limited. The impact of different microbiota, water chemistry, altered photo-thermal regimes on fish disease resistance at sea, immune function and microbiome have not been characterized and these may explain the variable performance observed in farmed stocks”, said Migaud.

This three-year project is a collaborative project that involves international academics and world leading industrial partners involved in salmon farming. The consortium will aim to provide new knowledge and scientific tools to monitor and enhance farming system efficiency and reliability, fish robustness and health, and sector productivity and sustainability. The consortium includes the Universities of Aberdeen, Exeter and Edinburgh, the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Mowi, the Scottish Salmon Company, Scottish Seafarms, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, Grieg Seafood, BioMar, PHARMAQ, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre and the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organization.

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