The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has signed a Letter of Intent with New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, the Cawthron Institute, to explore research projects of mutual interest – in particular, projects that could lead to higher productivity in the shellfish industry.
SAIC first connected with the renowned Cawthron Institute and its pioneering commercial mussel hatchery SPATnz back in 2015 when researching the viability of a similar facility in Scotland; research that also included a visit to Spring Bay Seafoods in Australia. 18 months on, a £1.7m multi-partner hatchery is now being piloted at the NAFC Marine Centre at the University of Highlands and Islands, with additional expertise from Spring Bay Seafoods.
The new Letter of Intent between SAIC and Cawthron, which was signed by SAIC CEO Heather Jones and Cawthron Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason at Aquaculture Europe 2016, hopes to build a similarly beneficial relationship between the Scottish and New Zealand aquaculture industries.
Comments Heather Jones: “Supporting new shellfish production systems is one of SAIC’s four priority innovation areas; areas identified by the Scottish aquaculture industry as being key to the sustainable growth of the sector. This new, more formal relationship with the Cawthron Institute will enable us to pool our combined knowledge of the challenges of selective breeding for mussels and oysters, amongst other issues, to make more advances, faster.”
The potential benefits of the new collaborative agreement aren’t restricted solely to the shellfish sector. Says Professor Charles Eason: “New Zealand has a strong track record in terms of production but as such we need to be thinking increasingly about sustainability, and Scotland has a great deal of expertise in the areas of fish health and welfare, genetics and biosecurity. This Letter of Intent represents an important connection, enabling us to identify areas of mutual interest, tap into best practice and really keep a close eye on the health and welfare aspect of aquaculture.”
Earlier this year SAIC signed a similar Letter of Intent with Nofima, the leading European institute for applied research into aquaculture, fisheries and food, that has since resulted in a meeting between Scottish and Norwegian researchers to identify possible areas of collaboration.
The intention now is to connect aquaculture experts from Scotland and New Zealand. Adds Charles Eason: “For a small to medium-sized enterprise like the Cawthron Institute, it’s hugely important to be collaborating. New Zealand likes to think of itself as a world leader in key areas of aquaculture. So too does Scotland. However, to truly maximise that leading edge and grow into the future we need to connect with one another and work together wherever we can.”