Finfish health & welfare

Addressing environmental and health challenges, particularly in the areas of sea lice and gill disease.

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    Scaling up the use of cleaner fish

    Increased harvest volumes of salmon and reduced reliance on medicinal controls, with the knock-on benefits of job creation in rural areas and improved perceptions about the environmental sustainability of salmon farming.

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    Simulating in vitro Atlantic salmon intestinal microbiome system

    A go-to diagnostic system for testing new feeds prior to in vivo trials, providing deeper insight and driving down the costs of bringing new products to market.

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    Serum biomarkers for early diagnostics of cardiomyopathies: field and challenge assessment

    This project aims to develop a simple and cost-effective mass testing tool that could significantly enhance fish health and wellbeing, by quickly and proactively detecting and differentiating between a range of cardiac conditions in salmon.

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    Aquawrasse: cleanerfish personality study

    Ballan wrasse is one of the species used as cleanerfish in salmon farming. Their natural behaviour is to pick sea lice off salmon, providing a gentle and continuous method of ridding farmed fish of parasites. This project will study the wrasse’s personalities and behaviours to determine whether bolder wrasse are better at keeping salmon clean.

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    Robust-Smolt: impact of environmental conditions on fish health and welfare

    The rapid expansion of the salmon farming sector has been made possible through the adoption of new farming technologies, such as using recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) for the early life stages of the fish. This project aims to characterise the impacts of freshwater environmental conditions – including water chemistry and temperature, but also photoperiod, nutrition, microbiome and smoltification between RAS and open water loch systems – on fish welfare, development, performance and overall health at sea.

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    KelpRing: natural kelp hides for cleanerfish

    KelpRing is an innovative new product to support the successful use of cleaner fish (an effective part of integrated parasite control and management) in the salmon farming sector. This innovation aims to improve cleaner fish welfare and survival rates by providing them with their own natural kelp forest within the salmon pens.

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    Assessing the use of cardiac biomarkers for early diagnostic of cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS)

    Cardiomyopathy Syndrome (CMS), a viral disease, has had a major impact on salmon production. Early diagnosis of this virus is important, and this project looks to identify fish cardiac disease biomarkers and develop a serological test for early diagnosis of CMS in salmon.

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    Field trials of a novel vaccine to combat Rainbow Trout Fry Syndrome (RTFS) in Scotland

    The bacterium Flavobacterium psychrophilum has been responsible for substantial economic losses in the rainbow trout industry globally, including the UK, for decades. It is widespread, occurs frequently, and can cause high mortality in fry and larger fish in freshwater hatcheries and on-growing sites. The impact of RTFS can be seen in terms of economic cost and in terms of risk. Currently the only course of action is antibiotic treatment, which has led to increased levels of antibiotic resistance, highlighting the urgent need for prophylactic treatments for RTFS. This project runs field trials for a recently developed vaccine in trout fry.

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    Live plankton analysis system (LPAS)

    Salmon farmers face significant challenges from various forms of plankton and algae. Detecting them early is vital and currently involves either a laborious manual process or expensive and complicated stand-alone sensors which do not provide live information. This project looks to develop an instant, accurate assessment of types and levels of plankton in the water surrounding fish farms, in order to work as an early warning system for the farmers.

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    Development of an orally administered novel sea lice vaccine targeting mucosal immunity

    Sea lice continue to have a major impact on the salmon farming industry. Many injection type vaccines have been trialled, but none are currently commercially available. This project seeks to develop an orally delivered efficacious sea lice vaccine, based on exploiting knowledge of salmonid mucosal immunity and sea louse biology, and utilising innovative delivery methods for oral vaccines.

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    Spatial and temporal drivers of gill pathology in Atlantic Salmon

    Unlocking the mechanisms underlying the variability in gill pathology, generating novel diagnostic tools to monitor gill conditions and designing functional feeds to improve gill performance are essential to maintain a healthy population of farmed fish, benefiting industry, consumers and environment.

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    Optimising freshwater health interventions in seawater salmon production

    This field-based project focuses on improving best practice for treating fish showing sub-optimal gill health. Objectives are: 1. Delivery of new knowledge concerning immersion of fish in ambient freshwater or low salinity water (modified seawater) to improve gill health or reduce sea lice 2. Elucidation of the welfare implications of such treatments including assessment of a number of innovative technologies in improving the health and welfare outcomes of interventions, with particular emphasis on oxygenation enhancement and associated water management improvements.

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    Developing diagnostic techniques for assessing fish health

    A cheaper, faster method of monitoring and informing fish health practitioners on the health and welfare of their fish.

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    Improving cleaner fish vaccination

    Improved survivability and efficacy of cleaner fish on Scotland’s salmon farms, with the potential for further adaptations to be used on other farmed non-salmonid species, opening up new export markets.

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    Establishing a sustainable supply and optimal deployment of lumpsuckers

    New protocols for breeding, feeding and deploying lumpsuckers into salmon farms; potential new products such as feeds and vaccines; and increased industry understanding of this cleaner fish species.

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    Exploring ultrasound-based technology for salmon delousing

    An effective, non-medicinal approach to controlling the incidence of sea lice on Scotland’s salmon farms.

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    Exploring the risk factors for Saprolegniosis outbreaks in salmon farms

    Increased understanding of Saprolegnia and its causative factors, enabling Scotland’s salmon farmers to pre-empt and control occurrence of the disease, improve fish health and welfare, and grow production volumes.

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    Developing mobile biomarker detection for seawater readiness

    Better decision-making; improved fish health and welfare; reduced mortalities; plus, the potential to adapt the device to test for a variety of diseases and pathogens.

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    Enhancing the health and welfare of lumpfish

    Increased understanding of the use and performance of cleaner fish in farmed environments.

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    Control of sea lice infections of farmed salmonids using hydrogen peroxide

    Establishment of guidelines for the use of hydrogen peroxide (Paramove®) at reduced salinities for control of sea lice and assessment of the safety and efficacy of Paramove® at a range of dosages in relation to seawater salinity.

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    Gill Health in Scottish farmed salmon

    Identification of actions and measures that can be used to prevent, reduce, or treat gill disease in farmed salmon, using a multidisciplinary approach, combining novel methodologies with well tested techniques.

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    Genomic breeding for gill health and lice resistance in salmon: towards improved accuracy and affordability

    Optimising genomic selection to improve the accuracy and affordability of the technology.

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    Improving Disease Resistance in Atlantic salmon and Rainbow trout to Flavobacterium psychrophilum

    The development and application of a F. psychrophilum immersion challenge model in Atlantic salmon to enable assessment of susceptibility of families to disease so that markers of resistance can be determined.

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    Investigation into the causes of and possible solutions to failed rainbow trout in aquaculture

    A comprehensive assessment of failed fish by the incorporation of information on brood stock (strain, family), genetics, husbandry, life cycle, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry to isolate why these fish have impaired growth and develop a solution to this problem through nutrition by testing the impact of various feeds.

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    Clinical nutrition and the treatment of Atlantic salmon gill diseases (NAGD)

    The development of diagnostic tools for the pathophysiological responses to gill disease in Atlantic salmon.

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    Exploring the use of avian proteins in salmon feeds

    Greater adoption of avian proteins; less reliance on imported feed products; sustainable use of locally available protein products; and a reduced carbon footprint.

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    Testing of novel health ingredients

    Securing the viability of strategies that bolster mucosal robustness and mitigate stress-related immunosuppression by preserving the stock robustness and in turn reducing the risk of spiralling interventions due to increased susceptibility to infections.

Lismore North landscape and fish farm
Event

Aquaculture UK

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Lochaber Ideas Week – Aquaculture Day

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Future Innovators: online masterclasses for the Scottish college sector

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International Gill Health Conference