MGSA Science & Research Working Group - Aquaculture Science & Research Strategy

MGSA S&RWG was tasked to produce a comprehensive research strategy prioritised on respective contribution to informing the sustainable growth of the Scottish aquaculture industry and potential impacts of the 2020 sustainable production targets as detailed

04 Table Food Safety & Hygiene

General Topic
Priority Ranking (1-5)


Relevance to 2020 target

Potential deficiencies in Infrastructure/Resource Requirements

1) Detection, quantification and management of algal biotoxins in shellfish production

Development of on farm or at processing site of rapid testing methods and equipment for detection and quantification of the marine biotoxin in shellfish.

Development of tools to rapidly detect and quantify Azaspiracid ( AZA).

Development of a shellfish toxin management/ OC system.

Creating a consumer confidence in the products of aquaculture is key to expanding domestic market and to drive demand for the expansion of the industry. Biotoxins are the principle concern for regulators and producers alike. For example areas in Scotland are subject to AZA closures but no rapid kits/methods for shellfish testing exist for use by harvesters. Currently they 'take their chances' and may have to recall product.

The lack of a Scottish Shellfish Bio-toxin testing facility has the potential to reduce the speed at which these new tests can be developed and certified.


2) Norovirus detection and management

Determine threshold levels for human consumption of Norovirus in shellfish.

Develop better Norovirus testing for end product testing differentiating between viable/non-viable viruses.

The dynamics of Norovirus in shellfish producing waters.

The presence of Norovirus genetic material in shellfish has received a lot of publicity, and this has the potential to reduce consumer confidence and reduce demand. There is a UK wide research effort in this area, however identification of 'safe' limits for norovirus would be a massive step forward.

The lack of a Scottish Shellfish facility to test for Norovirus.


3) Environmental quality of shellfish growing waters

Modelling of overflow incidents and their impacts on shellfish waters and the development of a rapid alert system.

Evaluation of how best to use phytoplankton monitoring as a tool in algal toxin warning systems.

Evaluation of current management tools of area classification.

Increasing production will be reliant increasing the capacity and provision of shellfish growing waters.

Understand how environmental influences impact on aquaculture food safety and hygiene is crucial to further developing the capacity of the industry.

This would require and integrated approach drawing on hydrodynamic modelling, microbiology, phytoplankton ecology and a study of current and prospective governance structures.


4) Ecophysiology of Harmful Algal Species and microorganisms

Improved models of transport of biological organism e.g. harmful algae and better physiological understanding and hence biological models of key organisms.

Improved understanding of environmental factors that govern algal toxicity.

The response of Vibrio bacterial in Scottish shellfish waters to climate change.

These are fundamental research questions that underpin more applied solutions as such would be suitable for funding under more traditional basic research channels.


5) Product traceability

Development of smart packaging to improve the traceability of aquaculture products.

Promoting consumer confidence and to creating a secure supply chain would again increase industry resilience and increase consumption and reduce waste.



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