Policy actions  3 of 3

Aquaculture science and research

Scottish National Reference Laboratory (NRL)

Marine Scotland Science (MSS) in Aberdeen is classified as the Scottish National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for fish, mollusc and crustacean diseases within the European Union.

As is required of an NRL, MSS has an extensive range of antibodies, reagents, molecular primers and probes used in the confirmation and characterisation of aquatic pathogens.

MSS participates in mandatory proficiency tests organised by the European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) to ensure that high technical quality standards are met and maintained. Key functions and resources include:

  • maintaining equipment, reagents and expertise required of an EU NRL (Regulation (EC) no 882/2004 of the European parliament)
  • using standard diagnostic laboratory methods accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 standard
  • an extensive collection of viral and microbial isolates dating back to the 1970s, as well as an extensive pathology archive
  • supplying reference material & reagents to other NRLs, universities and commercial laboratories as appropriate

Commerical testing and diagnostic work

A key priority for Bacteriology analysisMarine Scotland Science (MSS) is to prevent the introduction and spread of serious aquatic diseases in Scotland, as well as investigating and diagnosing unexplained mortalities.

MSS is able to provide a commercial advice and diagnostic service for the diagnosis, surveillance and screening of fish, shellfish and crustacean diseases and pathogens, which it does for the aquaculture industry, District Salmon Fishery Boards, Fishery Trusts and other stakeholders.

This includes:

  • a suite of diagnostic laboratories specialising in bacteriology, histopathology, immunology, molecular genetics, parasitology and virology
  • the capacity to sequence DNA and RNA of isolates and perform genotyping and phylogenetic analysis
  • a standardised approach to diagnostic sampling and testing by prioritising analytical methods based on scientific knowledge (Specificity [Sp] & Sensitivity [Se] testing)

Diseases (finfish, molluscs and crustaceans)

Like all animals, wild and farmed fish and shellfish experience disease problems. These may be broadly classified into infectious and non-infectious diseases. However, it is not always easy to make a strict division between these as non-infectious causes can stress fish and render them more susceptible to disease agents such as bacteria and viruses.

Scotland's fish, molluscs and crustaceans are protected by legislation including the Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009. This requires the owner or any person attending aquatic animals, veterinarians or any person with an occupational relationship with the aquatic animals to report the symptoms of certain diseases to the Fish Health Inspectorate.