Subsea sector can unlock growth in burgeoning aquaculture sector

Advice and information on how the subsea sector can benefit from opportunities in Scotland’s fast-growing aquaculture industry was the focus of a webinar organised by Subsea UK in early November.

The aquaculture industry has seen huge growth on a global level, creating a highly competitive fast-moving market with increasing demand for new and existing subsea technologies across a range of sectors. The very clear message that came from the webinar was that it will be crucial for companies to engage with the industry now if they want to be part of that market.

On a world scale, aquaculture now accounts for more than 180 million tonnes of production, around double the tonnage produced by the catching sector. It contributes £1.8 billion to the UK economy, £885million to the wider Scottish economy every year, supporting around 12,000 Scottish jobs.

Ambitious plans for the sustainable growth of the industry have set a target of doubling the current production value to £3.6 billion by 2030 alongside a major drive to catalyse innovation in the supply chain.

The webinar, which was run in conjunction with Subsea UK, provided an overview of the industry as well as advice to subsea businesses interested in collaborating and doing business in this fast-growing sector.

Sarah Riddle, director of business engagement, and funding manager, Sam Houston, described the work SAIC is doing to transform Scottish aquaculture by unlocking sustainable growth through innovation excellence as part of the blue economy. The blue economy covers a wide range of sectors including commercial fishing, ports & harbours and tourism & beaches, but the presentations focused purely on where aquaculture relates to subsea expertise such as in energy, marine science and defence.

Subsea technologies currently in use in the market include ROVs, divers, environmental assessment and modelling, imagery and sensors and moorings across sectors including offshore and subsea farming, engineering, data management and renewables.

This webinar, held on November 4, was the first of a series of webinars Subsea UK is organising following results of a member survey earlier this year which identified that SMEs, in particular, were looking for more market intelligence on diversification opportunities. The webinars will provide practical advice on the support available and initiatives being proposed by government and other organisations in key areas such as overseas opportunities, R&D funding, and export control as well as aquaculture.

"The aquaculture sector opens up a wealth of opportunities for companies in the subsea industry that want to diversify and grow their presence in this fast-moving market,” said Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK.

"SAIC and Subsea UK have formed a strategic partnership and are working together to highlight the scale of the opportunity and the potential for subsea companies as well as the aquaculture sector.

"This first webinar provided an introduction to the aquaculture industry, giving an overview of how the work which SAIC does can benefit our members. This one, and the others which will follow, are very action-focused, providing sound advice on how participants can engage with the sector, what steps they need to take and what support and funding sources are available to them.

"This is part of our on-going partnership approach with other organisations to identify initiatives which will stimulate and sustain activity across the subsea supply chain. The blue economy growth has huge potential and Subsea UK has been committed to ensuring the subsea supply chain is well-positioned to be at the epicentre of its growth.”

SAIC’s Sarah Riddle said: "The aquaculture sector has ambitious plans for sustainable growth over the next decade, and the development and adoption of new technologies will play a crucial role in achieving that aim. Subsea companies have a real opportunity to support a thriving part of the Scottish economy and this webinar was a great way to gain an understanding of the sector and its dynamics.

"SAIC has a deep connection with both businesses and academics in aquaculture and we are actively looking to support their adoption of new ideas and ways of working from other sectors. We’re excited to see what future connections and partnerships can be made between subsea and aquaculture.”
View the webinar presentation