Diversification of Aquaculture Practices


Member of staff

Aquaculture diversification activities range across:

  • Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture; Seaweed Culture, including resistance to parasites; Invertebrate culture
  • Seaweed cultivation (hatchery based and at sea) and potential uses of seaweed products and derivatives.
  • Elasmobranch immunology project (with the University of Aberdeen)
  • Sea-lice bioassays
  • Profiling of proteins and lipids in micro- and macroalage

Projects championing diversification initiatives the university is involved in:

The Stepping Stone Shellfish Hatchery project at Shetland UHI aims to take shellfish production to a new level and may lead to the first commercial mussel hatchery in Scotland. It is funded by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Government and EMFF. Over two thirds of rope-grown mussels produced in the UK come from Shetland and production is reliant on the natural availability of mussel spat (baby mussels). The establishment of a commercial hatchery to produce spat would help to provide stability in supply.

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.


GlobalSeaweed is a UK NERC-funded global initiative that aims to tackle emerging issues in seaweed aquaculture. SAMS UHI now has the largest pilot scale seaweed production facility in the UK, producing a range of brown red, and green seaweeds. In additional to their cultivation and hatchery work SAMS is also a global leader in seaweed disease and disease management and have paired with the United Nations University to produce a policy brief about the global development of the seaweed industry.


Shetland 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 in addition to Shetland UHI . Shetland UHI’s role within the project includes provision of large scale ensiled samples of wild and cultivated seaweed for conversion to biofuel.

Seaweed cultivation expertise;


This video describes some of the work currently happening at NAFC in Shetland in the cultivation of seaweed, and shows our researchers conducting work in the lab through to deploying and harvesting in the ocean off Shetland.


Main Contacts for these topics : adam.hughes@sams.ac.uk and claire.gachon@sams.ac.uk

Key staff working in this field : Adam Hughes | Claire Gachon | Liz Cottier | Gregg Arthur | Lesley McEvoy