The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Research project to put new focus on gill disease

Aquacultur­e: Group explore factors affecting sites in Scotland and Tasmania


A Scottish research group has launched a project aimed at significan­tly improving the global aquacultur­e industry’s understand­ing and treatment of fish gill disease.

The hope is that its work on tackling the potentiall­y fatal condition will deliver major husbandry benefits – and greater profits in the long run.

The group includes experts from salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms (SSF), Aberdeen University, aquacultur­e feed firm BioMar and the Stirling University-based Scottish

“The more we learn about how to protect these vital organs the better”

Aquacultur­e Innovation Centre (SAIC).

The project will explore the geographic­al, temporal, and nutritiona­l factors affecting salmon’s gill health at sites in Scotland and Tasmania, Australia.

It is thought to be affected by factors ranging from sitespecif­ic variables and fish diet to water temperatur­e and oxygenatio­n levels.

Warming seas and progressiv­e de-oxygenatio­n of water have stressed the need to better understand gill disease, and heightened interest in finding new prevention and treatment methods.

The researcher­s aim to find the optimum conditions for promoting good fish health, while improving natural resistance to gill disease.

They will also create “biomarkers” to monitor the condition, develop diagnostic tools that may minimise individual interpreta­tion of results and explore the production of feeds to bolster health.

SSF has salmon farms along the west coast, as well as in Orkney and Shetland.

Ralph Bickerdike, head of fish health at the firm, said: “The gills play a crucial role in the overall health of a fish. So, the more we learn about how best to protect these vital organs, the bigger the advances we can make to further improve welfare and increase survival rates.

“What’s exciting about this latest collaborat­ive research project is that it takes a holistic view, exploring not just the key factors affecting the gills but also how they might impact on one another, helping us to identify the best growing conditions for farmed fish health.”

Professor Samuel Martin of Aberdeen University’s school of biological sciences said: “The gill is a key organ with roles in oxygen exchange, but also has extremely important function for fish health.

This project, working directly with industry, will help define how gill health varies between farm sites and at different times of the year.

“The outcomes will lead to better understand­ing and early warning for gill health issues.”

SAIC aquacultur­e innovation manager Caroline Griffin added: “Gill health is among the foremost challenges facing aquacultur­e across all salmon-producing regions of the world.

“The project is about finding a way of using the vast amounts of data collected to create the right balance of conditions for salmon, enhancing their resilience.

“On top of that, the developmen­t of biomarkers and new feeds could act as a significan­t boost to fish health and wellbeing, and our overall understand­ing of this complex disease.”

 ??  ?? HAUL: Salmon farming is a key Scottish industry, and a collaborat­ive research project hopes to find answers to the issue of gill disease
HAUL: Salmon farming is a key Scottish industry, and a collaborat­ive research project hopes to find answers to the issue of gill disease

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom