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Aquaculture

Aquaculture

The Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling is the leading international centre in its field, and the largest of its kind in the world. It brings together world-class academics to research and teach in a variety of disciplines, including postgraduate courses in: Sustainable Aquaculture, Aquatic Pathobiology, Aquatic Veterinary Studies, and Aquatic Production and Veterinary Health. Professor Herve Migaud talks in more depth about the science of aquaculture and the benefits of studying at Stirling.

Professor Herve Migaud

Director of the Institute of Aquaculture

Herve joined the University as a postdoctoral fellow in 2002 and has been with the Institute of Aquaculture for more than a decade. He is now the Director of the Institute and has been the Breeding and Physiology Team Leader for the past 15 years. As a fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and a board member of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), Herve is a prominent figure within the world of aquaculture.

What is Aquaculture?

'Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Some types of aquaculture have been practised for thousands of years, but over the last 50 there has been tremendous growth in production. Around half of the aquatic food consumed globally now originates from aquaculture rather than capture or collection from the wild. As such, there is a need to develop new technologies to address the many challenges that have emerged in terms of reproduction, nutrition, health and disease, and ensuring environmental and economic sustainability – all of which are researched and studied at Stirling.'

The Institute of Aquaculture is a world-leading centre of research and teaching. How does this benefit students?

'The Institute of Aquaculture started in the 1970s alongside the emerging salmon farming industry in Scotland and Norway. It quickly became engaged with aquaculture development in Asia, Africa and Latin America and became a globally recognised centre of excellence for aquaculture research, with many alumni holding senior positions in both government and private sectors.'

'Students benefit from both the breadth of experience of staff and their depth of subject expertise, which comes from being actively engaged with cutting-edge research and internationally collaborative projects. Students will also be able to take advantage of the diverse experiences and backgrounds of their peers.'

What are the primary challenges Aquaculture faces in today’s global climate?

'Good-quality seafood can contribute massively to human health, economic activity and overall wellbeing. The challenge is to develop a system that delivers affordable fish and shellfish, while also making sure we respect our ethical commitment to animal welfare and environmental and social responsibility. This is often achieved by advances in health, nutrition or breeding, which can reduce costs and the impact on our environment, while also respecting animal welfare.'

'Analysing our carrying capacity against aquaculture production within wider value chain and agri-food systems is also important. Overcoming issues such as processing and distribution can also contribute significantly to sustainability and resilience, particularly in the face of climate change and other shocks.'

Stirling focuses on five key research and teaching themes within Aquaculture. What are they and why are they important?

'Most of our research is focused on the culture of seafood and developing efficient and sustainable production systems.'

  1. Our first theme of ‘Breeding and Genetic Improvement’ addresses the fundamental challenge of controlling the reproductive cycle, so that farming can be independent of wild seed supply. It also encompasses the use of new genomic techniques in selective breeding.
  2. The second theme of ‘Nutrition’ deals with developing efficient and sustainable food for cultured organisms.
  3. ‘Health’, our third theme, is vital for sustaining economic production
  4. Out third theme is strongly linked with the fourth theme of Welfare and Behaviour, which is fast becoming an important element of aquaculture.
  5. 'These themes all tie into the fifth and final area of Aquaculture Systems, which focuses on the environmental, social, economic, business and engineering dimensions of aquaculture development.'

What are the main career pathways for aquaculture graduates?

'People naturally think of careers as managers, biologists or health specialists within fish and shellfish production. However, there are many career opportunities in the global supply sector, including engineering, feed and pharmaceutical companies, or specialist veterinary practices. Others look to the downstream industry of processing and distribution. Some graduates will enter the public sector, working in regulatory and policy roles, e.g. concerning environmental, health or development issues. Others work with non-government agencies including expanding opportunities in standard setting and certification. There are also the options of research careers, teaching, consultancy, insurance and risk management, or sector representation and communications.'

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