Plans for a new innovation hub dedicated to aquaculture research at the University of Stirling have been accepted by the local City Council.
The new National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub (NATIH) will feature laboratories for experimentation, brand new aquatic facilities, a tropical aquarium, as well as a space for business acceleration-related activities.
The UK Government are investing £17M into the building of the new centre, as part of the national and Scottish Government’s £90.2M Stirling Clackmannanshire Region Deal, which aims to bring economic growth to the area.
Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, and the University of Stirling are also all investing around £123.8M to produce a deal worth over £214M, to be used within the following 10 to 15 years.
Head of the University’s Institute for Aquaculture, Professor Simon MacKenzie, said: “This is an important milestone in the development of the National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub. There is an enormous role for aquaculture to play in ensuring that the world has a secure and sustainable supply of food.
“The Hub will develop and reinforce a strong working relationship between the University’s researchers and the global aquaculture industry, ensuring that the ideas, interventions and solutions developed will have a meaningful impact where they are needed most, and deliver jobs, growth and prosperity.”
He added: “Sustainable aquatic food systems around the world are fundamentally important in terms of delivering improvement in environmental aquatic organism and human health and welfare. Therefore, aquaculture will play a fundamental and critical role in the development in how we combat climate change, and how we combat food poverty across our planet.”
Through the NATIH, the university aims to place themselves at the forefront of development and innovation in the aquaculture sector, which currently has a growth rate of around 8% worldwide.
The new hub aims to help Scotland to double its level of aquaculture production by 2030, as well as advance innovation in other areas of the world where the sector is also growing, including Africa, South America and Asia.
Iain Stewart, UK Government Minister for Scotland, added: “Scotland has huge potential for growth in aquaculture, which represents a significant opportunity for rural and coastal communities.
“The UK Government is investing £17m in this hub, which will keep Scotland at the cutting edge of a global industry, bring in new jobs and investment, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront.
“Across Scotland we are investing £1.75 billion in regional projects to level up communities everywhere.”
University of Stirling is already well known for its Institute of Aquaculture, and was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2019 for the international reach of its research.
A deal has also just been agreed this week between the University of Stirling and North Ayrshire Council to improve and accelerate the blue economy in the west of Scotland, with a prime aim to develop marine sustainability in the region.
The University of Southern California have also opened a new aquaculture lab in San Pedro, this week, called the Dornsife Nuzhdin Aquaculture Lab. It will be based in the 35-acre warehouses belonging to the ocean-related solutions company AltaSea. The space will include 24 tanks, which will be used to improve the resilience of oysters, mussels and kelp to harsh climate conditions, predicted to get worse in the future as a result of climate change.
An EIT Food Aquaculture Showcase held in 2021 stressed the importance of finding more sustainable forms of aquaculture at a local, national and international level, if any of the UN Sustainable Development Goals were to be reached by the sector in 2030.