Leading in aquaculture research

Aquaculture research at Stirling is ranked first in the UK, and among the best in the world, with over 80% judged as internationally excellent or world-leading in the last UK assessment of research quality where we were ranked within the top five in the UK for Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (REF2014). Our excellent staff, facilities and networks, including the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre hosted at Stirling, make us the natural first choice for research partners from across the globe.

All these themes address significant and developing issues in the UK and world aquaculture, with impact on industry, consumers, regulators and policy makers.

We have four main areas of research

Health & Welfare

We research all aspects of aquatic animal health with active sub-groups focusing on immunology, histopathology, bacteriology, virology, parasitology and welfare. The group also has expertise in aquatic animal epidemiology and welfare at population level. Like our other research themes, our activities span from fundamental research through applied, user-driven research to consultancy (with services in veterinary diagnostics and vaccines). The overall aim of the group is to improve our understanding of major pathogens, fish immune responses and how to reduce stressors in culture systems.

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Our drive is to work with partners to develop new fish feeds that utilise alternative oil and protein sources as replacements for traditional fish oils and meals, and meet health needs of consumers in terms of flesh quality, nutritional composition, pollutant contamination, sustainability and traceability. We work on fish as principal sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which play key roles in human nutrition. They are important for the development of the nervous system, and in the prevention and therapy of various pathological conditions, including cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders.

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Genetics and Reproduction

This group focuses on the development and application of the latest genetic and genomic techniques to improve broodstock management, welfare and performances of existing and potential new farmed aquatic animals. We work on the control of maturation and puberty, selective breeding, mechanisms of sex differentiation and gender control. We also work on sterility to develop improved stock management strategies, which result in the production of fish as a controllable and sustainable resource. We combine the use of new molecular biology techniques and genomics, with whole animal studies of physiology and function, to achieve results that take advantage of our strong links with our other research groups and industry.

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Sustainable Aquaculture

Addressing sustainability and resilience within the aquaculture sector, this group informs strategies for developmental impact and global aquatic food security. Activities encompass environmental and social modelling, carrying capacity, spatial analysis, biodiversity and new species. We work closely with international partners in securing and improving aquatic resource users’ livelihoods, value chains and life cycle assessment. All these themes address significant and developing issues in the UK and world aquaculture, with impact on industry, consumers, regulators and policy makers.

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