Experienced aquaculture operators are being invited to tender for a demonstration project in coastal waters off southwest England, addressing the sustainable production of marine finfish.
A project team comprised of representatives from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the British Trout Association (BTA) and The Crown Estate (TCE) is seeking a commercial partner to help develop a \"proof of concept\" enterprise.
This work will demonstrate the potential for net-pen production of rainbow trout in the coastal marine waters off Cornwall.
It is believed that there is sufficient understanding about rainbow trout - farming principles, technical knowledge - and scope within the market for an enterprise producing this species in a net-pen facility to be viable.
Cefas\' Neil Auchterlonie, Programme Director in Food Security and Aquaculture, said: \"This multi-partner project is a very exciting initiative for aquaculture in England. There is potential for aquaculture to support UK government and regional aspirations relating to food security and regional economic development.\"
The project team is inviting expressions of interest from the aquaculture industry to operate at an agreed site as an independent business. The team, led by Cefas, will monitor the sustainability of that operation using a range of criteria and covering aspects such as environmental effects and fish health and welfare.
Dr. Auchterlonie continued: \"This project should help support the long-term sustainable development of the marine aquaculture sector in English waters. Our model provides a platform for the sharing of information, stakeholder input and dialogue.\"
David Bassett, BTA Chief Executive, said: \"There is clear market demand, both at home and abroad, for top-quality farmed UK trout. It is exciting to try to increase production through a novel collaboration with regulatory authorities and local interests.
\"We are lucky to be able to start with best practice that has been developed over decades elsewhere, and to thereby avoid many of the problems faced in the past. Both fish farmers and those from outside our sector will be watching this project closely to see how it develops.\"
The project will support both the regional economy and the seafood supply chain.
Alex Adrian, Aquaculture Operations Manager at TCE, said: \"We are pleased to be contributing to a project which will diversify and strengthen Cornwall\'s aquaculture industry, creating new opportunities for it to grow and succeed within a seafood sector that is developing rapidly.\"
An Information Notice document, providing further background details, may be downloaded from the websites of each of the project team\'s websites: