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Stirling Aquatic Veterinary Graduate addresses global food shortage

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Angela Ashby
Angela Ashby. Photo: Jeff Holmes

A University of Stirling graduand is playing her part in tackling the global food shortage – starting with Scottish salmon.

Qualified Vet Angela Ashby, from Shoalhaven Heads in New South Wales, Australia, chose to study at Stirling and focus on farmed fish stock to help address the shocking statement from the World Wildlife Federation that ‘by 2030 the world will need two earths to feed everyone.’

“The global population is so great now that with current eating habits the planet just cannot sustain us all without massive change to the way we produce our food,” said Angela, who graduates with a Distinction in Aquatic Veterinary Studies at Stirling’s Winter Graduation today.

“Aquaculture potentially represents a viable long-term source of high quality protein for much of the world’s population. I feel that Veterinarians have an important role to play in ensuring that food animal production of all kinds is carried out ethically, sustainably and in such a way that future populations will have enough to eat whilst still having a beautiful planet to live on.

“Veterinary involvement has historically been low in the aquaculture industry compared with other terrestrial animal production and I believe that it is important that going forward we play a more active role.”

Angela, 29, completed a Veterinary Science degree in Sydney and has worked in various practices in both hemispheres before deciding to further her studies at Stirling’s renowned Institute of Aquaculture. Here, in the first study of its kind, she investigated the impact of the devastating pancreas disease on two types of Atlantic salmon farmed in Scotland.

She said: “This research is important to the industry as it provides producers with scientific material that allows them to make informed decisions as to which type of salmon they should farm. There is a strong drive across the global salmon industry to improve the standard of welfare in farms and reduce the environmental impact of farming.

“An important aspect of achieving both of these goals is to ensure the salmon being farmed are as resilient as possible in the face of a disease outbreak. Whilst this study provided initial data showing similar pancreas disease susceptibility in the lab setting, further research needs to be carried out to see if these findings remain true on salmon farms.”

Angela continues to consider the health of Scottish fish in her new role with leading aquaculture health consultants The Fish Vet Group. She has taken time out from the Inverness office to attend the second of two Winter Graduation ceremonies.

“Studying at Stirling was a bit colder than what I was used to being an Australian,” joked Angela, who found time during her studies to entertain fellow students and staff in her other capacity as a musician. “The Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling is recognised globally as a world leader in aquaculture research with many past and present staff and graduates being highly respected across the industry. The postgraduate degrees attract students from all over the world and I believe we had around 20 nationalities represented amongst the 50 MSc students this year.

“This provided a brilliant chance to meet colleagues from different backgrounds, leading to most of us forming strong global connections and facilitated opportunities for diverse cultural learning in addition to our rigorous aquatic curriculum. My supervisors were fantastic, especially Dr Tharangani Herath. Throughout my research project they provided invaluable wisdom and guidance.”

David Christie
Public Relations Officer
01786 466653

Notes for editors
Background information

Stirling's Winter Graduation ceremonies recognise 950 graduates from Arts & Humanities, Management, Sport, Applied Social Science, Health Sciences, Education and Natural Sciences.

There are also two honorary doctorates awarded, to Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins and to Paul Dumbleton, whose work in the Stirlingshire community has bettered the lives of young people with disabilities.

The ceremonies on the central Stirling campus complete the University’s Graduation programme in 2014, following its Highlands & Islands celebration at Inverness Cathedral last month.

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