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B. Hadfield, Marine Harvest; S. Alexander, University of Stirling; F. Ewing MSP; Dr K. Kwasek, BioMar; and H. Jones, SAIC. (Photo: Ewen Weatherspoon)

Salmon feed innovations to boost Scotland’s export market

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 8/31/2016)

Two projects aimed at improving salmon feed formulations are to be carried out with the support from Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), which has offered over GBP 140,000.

The two new projects were announced at an 80-strong consortium member event attended by industry, academia and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP.

Referring to the projects, Ewing stated: “I am thrilled to see such innovative thinking as we look for ways to increase sustainable production across the sector. Scottish salmon is Scotland’s single biggest food export and adds considerable value to our economy as a whole.”

The secretary explained that projects like these not only help the industry to grow economically but bring value through jobs, sustainability and environmental benefits.

The first project, led by BioMar in partnership with supermarket giant Morrisons, the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling and SARIA, will address a core challenge for the salmon farming industry: identifying alternative protein sources that are locally sourced and have low environmental impact, for use in feeds. It aims to highlight key issues and develop a roadmap to explore the use of avian-derived protein (from poultry).

For his part, Morrisons’ ‎Fisheries & Aquaculture Manager Huw Thomas stressed: “As one of the UK’s largest supermarket retailers, we are committed to ensuring our seafood sourcing programme uses methods which are the least detrimental to the marine environment. This project will explore decreasing our reliance on marine resources for fish feed. If this concept proves acceptable to our customers, we could change our feed ingredient policy.”

The project will also be innovative in its cross-sector approach, spanning the supply chain from raw material producer (SARIA), to feed producer (BioMar), through to UK retailer of farmed salmon (Morrisons).

In this regard, Product Developer at BioMar Dr Karolina Kwasek said: “With data and insights incorporated from a multi-disciplinary research team of social scientists, biochemists, nutritionists and pathologists, the consortium covers the full salmon value chain and the power to influence change will be greater than ever before in the UK.”

The initial six-month phase will focus on collecting data from retailers and consumers to identify the issues related to adopting avian proteins, and will cost GBP 68,144 – of which SAIC is contributing GBP 40,907. If consumer perception around avian proteins is found to be positive, later phases of the project could comprise nutritional and fish quality analysis.

The second SAIC-supported feeds project will see natural animal health and nutrition specialist Alltech partner with the University of Glasgow, Marine Harvest and NOFIMA to explore a key cause of poor growth in salmon: inefficient digestion, linked to the fish’s metabolic rate.

Intestinal microbes are known to play a central role in how fish metabolise and harvest energy from feed, and greater understanding of these processes could reveal routes to improve growth efficiency of salmon. To this end, the team will develop a new experimental tool – SalmoSim – to explore the link between gut microbial communities and feed digestion.

In this regard, the University of Glasgow’s Dr Martin Llewellyn stressed: “Once established, the SalmoSim system will be a significant resource and research tool for the salmonid aquaculture industry in Scotland and Europe, as well as for basic science in the region. As such, we expect it will create added value by which other scientists and aquaculture companies across the world can access the technology to test scientific theories and novel compounds.”

According to Heather Jones, CEO at SAIC these two projects meet the centre’s priority innovation area focusing on feed quality and nutrition and come about as a direct result of industry-identified needs.

“SAIC is proud to support projects which achieve this through sustainable practices and, in turn, boost the productivity of the aquaculture industry in Scotland,” Jones concluded.


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