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

07 Table Capacity

General Topic
Priority Ranking (1-4)


Relevance to 2020 target

Potential deficiencies in Infrastructure/Resource Requirements

1) Improved inshore capacity estimates would allow greater certainty as to the appropriate sustainable capacity for new development

(1) Improve understanding the spatial distribution of the environmental, economic and social factors that constrain aquaculture development and identify areas that should be avoided.

(2) Application of Multi-Criteria Evaluation GIS to identify areas of expansion potential based on (1) above.

(3) Understanding and mapping of social acceptance of aquaculture across local communities.

(4) Improved spatial guidance on landscape sensitivity.

Aquaculture will need to be integrated into Regional Marine Plans. Without some improved aspects of spatial guidance this will be difficult to do in a consistent way. The inshore marine space is already crowded and intelligent techniques for planning and site selection will be required to both find locations with spare capacity and take account of competing claims from other marine sectors.

Marine Planning Partnerships that would use the outputs have yet to be formed.

2) Improved estimates of assimilative and biological carrying capacity for fish and shellfish farms in inshore and offshore marine ecosystems

(1) Improve forcing data availability and ground truthing of available sea loch scale capacity models and improve usability of models ( GUI).

(2) Development of offshore capacity estimates at varying spatial scales through modelling approaches.

(3) Improve sea loch scale capacity models to account for mixing from non-tidal sources (coastal currents and wind-driven events).

(4) Apply wide scale hydrodynamic models to predict cumulative impacts from multiple farms.

Current inshore capacity estimates are restricting development potential in many areas and could be made less precautionary in some cases with improved capacity models used for planning and licensing. Combining hydrodynamic, eutrophication and particle tracking models to address cumulative impacts at a seaboard scale has not yet been attempted but is entirely tractable with the advent of efficient models and cheap computing.

Data availability for these models is poor.

Model ground truthing is resource intensive.

Relevant modelling expertise in this area is good.

(4) Dependant on the output of Scottish coastal shelf model under development.

3) Optimisation of site selection for disease management (cf Section 06 Wild-Farmed Interactions)

(1) Application of large scale hydrodynamic models to predict spatial distribution of infective pathogen and parasite transfer.

(2) Optimisation of management areas and site selection to minimise risk of infection and maximise production potential from chemotherapeutant limits.

Salmon are farmed in management areas to allow strategic control of sea lice and diseases such as amoebic gill disease. These management areas may be sub-optimal. Use of the new shelf-wide spatially varying grid hydrodynamic models to simulate the transport of disease and parasites between farms offers massive potential benefits to disease management. The platforms are nearly ready but resource is needed to run multiple simulations of a wide range of scenarios and forcing.

Requires output of e.g. Scottish coastal shelf model.

4) Improved management of shellfish aquaculture to account for changing environmental conditions

(1) Improved ability to predict spatial and temporal variability of spat-fall and on-growing success of mussels from environmental parameters.

(2) Early warning and characterising the spatial/temporal dimensions to risk from harmful planktonic events (algal toxins, jellyfish, high biomass blooms).

(3) Understanding the impacts of climate change on shellfish aquaculture.

Research is needed to better understand (i) how climate change will influence factors such as mussel larvae density/timing/quality, planktonic food abundance/quality, harvesting site hydrography and (ii) how increasing inorganic and organic nutrient runoff from land based agriculture will impact shellfish aquaculture (potential to increase phytoplankton food for shellfish, but also the balance of benign/harmful organisms).



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