Current Aquaculture Projects

Fish hatchery

This section is constantly being updated as projects conclude and new ones begin.  We clearly interact with a large number of development agencies, government agencies, businesses and other universities and institutions - we could not hope to list all of our interactions here.  The projects noted below are intended to provide a flavour of our activities but if you have any project or collaboration ideas then we are always happy to discuss a new engagement.

In the first instance please contact either or


 GlobalSeaweed is a UK NERC-funded global initiative that aims to tackle emerging issues in seaweed aquaculture. GlobalSeaweed project connects world leading scientists to support and perform pioneering research activities including:  

  • Pathogen identification, culture, and biobanking
  • Identification of defense-related genes in red and brown algae
  • Exploitation of the model organism E.siliculosus to study algal pathology
  • Identification of seaweed pathogens virulence determinants using NGS genomic and transcriptomic strategies

Project website: GlobalSeaweed

Predicting the effects of marine cage farming on the benthic environment

NewDEPOMOD is the result of a major investment by Scottish Government to completely revise the key tool used by SEPA to grant discharges for waste solids and associated medicines from fish farms in Scotland.  This has produced a significant research output involving 3 research cruises, considerable data analysis and the employment of a very wide range of theoretical concepts particularly relating to post-depositional particle behaviour (with Partrac Ltd). The work is encapsulated in a completely redesigned model of some >90k lines of computer code.

Salmon Tracking

A recently completed the feasibility phase of a major project that aims to describe the migration patterns of salmon smolts in the Moray and Pentland Firths. Conducted as part of TURNKEY, this work also makes a valuable contribution to the Pentland Salmon Initiative. Local information on the timing of smolt migration and the routes these fish take along the coast is now needed for planning purposes –particularly in relation to marine developments. Such information would allow potentially harmful activities such as piling or drilling to take place outwith migration times and routes. Further studies are planned for 2016 using small acoustic tags to track the movement of smolts from the Berriedale River. In this most recent work, electro fishing was used to resurvey parts of the river to find out how much the fish had grown since they were last examined; how many remained after the winter, and how large the largest fish had become. Smolts large enough to tag were present in mid-April, albeit in small numbers. The survey also provided an indication of where suitable sized fish could be found in higher numbers and plans for future tracking work will now get underway. Alongside this work the team are Stepping Stone Shellfish Hatchery project as they leave a number of rivers in the North-East of Scotland and head out to sea.  These records will be combined with oceanographic models in the area to determine the routes taken by smolts as they move from the river to the sea on the first, critical stage of their northward journey.

Key contact:

Lipodomic and Proteomic Profiling for Aquaculture

The Lipidomics Research Facility recently installed a Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) funded AB SCIEX QTRAP 6500 liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) system for the analysis of the lipids and proteins in fish and shellfish species.

Key contacts: 

Circular Ocean, a project led by North Highland College UHI’s Environmental Research Institute, aims to discover and co-ordinate innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce marine plastic waste. Circular Ocean seeks to inspire enterprises and entrepreneurs to realise the hidden opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes, with efforts concentrated in the Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) region.

Key contacts: 

AquaSpace: making space for aquaculture

AquaSpace is an EU H2020 project co-ordinated by SAMS UHI.  The central goal of the AquaSpace project is to provide increased space of high water quality for aquaculture by adopting the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and so to deliver food security and increased employment opportunities through economic growth. We are working in collaboration with the aquaculture industry, other stakeholders, and coastal managers and planners in the European Economic Area and beyond to produce a range of tools that will enable effective implementation of EAA and MSP to support the aquaculture sector.

Key contactsSuzi Billing, Lucy Greenhill

The IDREEM project; SAMS UHI has coordinated the 5.7M€ IDRREM project (Increasing Industrial Resource Efficiency in European Mariculture). This 4 year projects aims to quantify the environmental, economic and social impacts of new aquaculture production systems across Europe.  It will demonstrate the benefits of IMTA through pilot commercial-scale testing, field research and modelling. Interdisciplinary research within IDREEM will examine the obstacles and risks to the use of IMTA systems and develop tools to overcome these constraints, whether they are economic, environmental, technical, social or regulatory. The IDREEM consortium will develop tools and methods to help the European aquaculture industry adopt more environmentally and economically efficient practices using IMTA on a commercial scale.

Project website: IDREEM

ALFF: the ALgal microbiome - Friends and Foes

The overarching aim of ALFF is to train 15 PhD students (researchers and technologists) within a multinational consortium of 10 institutions, whilst bringing a scientific step-change in our understanding of these interactions, leading to the development of superior mass algal cultivation and biocontrol strategies. The project stems from the exponentially rate of growth of Algal aquaculture worldwide, with multiple applications in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Current research in algal biotechnology mostly focuses on metabolite discovery, aquaculture yield improvement and engineering bottlenecks. However, agronomical experience shows that controlling the interaction of land crops with mutualistic or pathogenic microbes is most critical to successful production. Likewise, controlling the microbial flora associated with algae (the 'algal microbiome') is emerging as the biggest biological challenge for their increased usage. The project aims to help satisfy the need for specialist.

Project website: ALFF

MacroBioCrude: Developing an Integrated Supply and Processing Pipeline for the Sustained Production of Ensiled Macroalgae-derived Hydrocarbon Fuels  

The NAFC Marine Centre UHI is a partner within the 5-year, EPSRC-funded ‘MacroBioCrude’ project investigating seaweed ensilage and its potential use in biofuel production. The project aim is to develop an Integrated Supply and Processing Pipeline for the Sustained Production of Ensiled Macroalgae-derived Hydrocarbon Fuels and it is being jointly led by the Universities of Durham and Harper Adams (HAU) and is partnered by the Universities of Aberystwyth, Swansea andGreenwich. NAFC Marine Centre UHI’s role within the project includes provision of large scale ensiled samples of wild and cultivated seaweed for conversion to biofuel. 

Key contact:

The Shetland Seaweed Growers project

Funded by the Coastal Communities Fund and supported by NAFC Marine Centre UHI project partner Scottish Sea Farms Ltd. and by East Voe Shellfish Ltd., this project aims to investigate the feasibility of cultivating seaweed in Shetland and aims to increase interest in seaweed production and its use in local products by a mixture of research, industry-liaison and outreach activities in schools and businesses.

Project website: Seaweed Cultivation


A SAIC-funded Mussel Stock Management project is being delivered by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI and XELECT Ltd in liaison with the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group . This project aims to develop SNP-based stock management tools for blue mussels suitable for broodstock selection and the establishment of a family selection program. It will test first cross hatchery protocols and validate parentage assignment using Shetland farmed mussels of known pedigree.  It will also help support the Stepping Stone Shellfish Hatchery project also being delivered at the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in association with the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group.

Key contact: