An innovative aquaculture project has been launched to prove the engineering for a new way of producing salmon off the Scottish coast that improves fish welfare and is more environmentally friendly.
Inverness-based SME Aqua Innovations, with the support of several partners and an industry-led steering group, has secured funding via the UK Seafood Innovation Fund to undertake the detailed design stage of the ‘SeaCAP 6000’ - a new floating, contained 6,000m3 pen to grow salmon smolts to full harvest weight.
The SeaCAP 6000 aims to provide the optimum environment for the fish through controlled water quality and exclusion of external biological factors which can impact on fish health. Faeces and waste feed can be captured and disposed of safely.
The innovation is aligned with national agendas to support sustainable growth of the sector to double production and economic contribution by 2030.
Rodger Taylor, the inventor of the SeaCAP said “Although significant progress has been made in recent years, current salmon farming still encounters various challenges associated with ‘open water’ production, related to water quality, environmental pollution, and fish escapes. The unsecured perimeters of current production systems also make the salmon vulnerable to disease, algae, sea lice, jellyfish and predators.
“We believe the SeaCAP has the potential to transform both Scottish and global salmon production. It has been in development for a number of years and we’re delighted that its potential has been recognised.”
The project is funded by the UK Seafood Innovation Fund, which supports bold and ambitious tech-driven projects that will enable a step-change in the productivity and sustainability of the UK seafood sector. Administered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the UK Seafood Innovation Fund supports projects with a long-term vision to improve the UK seafood, fishing and aquaculture industries.
Agri-EPI is supporting the project by organising an industry-led expert steering group to ensure the innovation is developed in-line with supply chain needs and challenges. Business Development Manager for Aquaculture & Livestock, Kasi McReddie, said: “New technology can offer salmon producers solutions to major challenges by essentially eliminating outside threats and giving the farmer more control over their sites. This collaborative approach to innovation is at the heart of Agri-EPI’s vision to support productive, sustainable and profitable food production.”
QEDNaval, responsible for the Naval Architecture and Hydrodynamics, said “We have had a long-standing relationship with Aqua Innovation and its associated company, Concrete Marine Solutions (CMS), we have a similar innovative approach to the manufacturing of large marine structures, which is the case of CMS is based on 40+ years of experience and ingenuity. We are delighted to be involved in the development of this innovative SeaCAP concept and help bring this revolutionary idea to the market where it can have a dramatic impact on fish wealth fare in an environmentally sensitive, and commercially viable way.”
Sterner AquaTech, who are designing the Water Quality and Life Support systems, said “Sterner are delighted to be continuing our involvement with this project having been working since 2019 on concept designs with Aqua Innovations. Our ethos has always been to seek to innovate and improve on our equipment and methods in the industry, and to be involved in a project such as this is a natural progression. Environmental pressures are only going to increase in our industry, and SeaCAP is a unique answer to many of those concerns and could be the model for sustainable farming in the near future.”
Another partner, Lloyds Register, will be undertaking validation of the design in a subsequent stage of the project.