A project to address one of the key challenges faced by Scotland’s salmon farmers is underway, supported by grant funding from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and UK research council BBSRC.
By Liza Mayer
Saprolegnia – a type of water mould that can harm fish eggs and juvenile fish – is thought to significantly reduce stocks at Scotland’s salmon farms every year.
A multi-partner cross-sector collaboration now seeks to minimise those losses and boost the availability of farmed Scottish salmon by compiling a “big data” resource that will increase understanding of Saprolegnia and its causative factors.
The £1.1m project, “Risk factors for escalating saprolegniosis outbreaks in salmon farms” (RIFE-SOS), is led by scientist Professor Pieter van West, Director of the International Centre for Aquaculture Research and Development at the University of Aberdeen.
Says Pieter: “We know that several factors can make fish more susceptible to Saprolegnia and that separate farms subject to similar conditions can be affected to very different degrees.
“Therefore, we would like to explore what are the main risk factors and which of those factors play a synergistic role in suppressing fish immunity to Saprolegnia. The greater our understanding of this, the more we can do to improve fish health and welfare, and increase production volumes.”
The project brings together the knowledge of eight aquaculture companies with the expertise of leading academics at the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow to develop an information toolkit on how to pre-empt and control occurrence of the disease.