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Centre for Aquaculture


Overview of the Centre for Aquaculture

Centre for Aquaculture SAMS

The Centre for Aquaculture at SAMS specialises in the assessment and understanding of the interaction between aquaculture and the environment from both perspectives: the supply of services or impacts from the environment to aquaculture and aquaculture's effects on the environment.

Bringing both of these strands together, the centre is leading research and development into mitigating negative interactions to support and protect the long-term sustainability (environment, economy, society) of aquaculture.

The centre specialises in four areas:

Impact of the environment on aquaculture

  • Harmful Algal Blooms: detection, forecasting, and influences
  • Capacity modelling
  • Jellyfish Monitoring
  • Impacts of invasive species

Impact of aquaculture on the environment

  • Predictive modelling of benthic effects of aquaculture: AutoDEPOMOD/MERAMOD
  • The fate of medicines in the environment
  • Environmental impact assessment methodology
  • Benthic recovery and sediment sulphides
  • Hydrodynamical modelling: FV-COM: from bay to shelf
  • Modelling lice transmission and connectivity
  • Regulation of aquaculture


Diversification of aquaculture practices

  • Research and development of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA)
  • Seaweed culture
  • Invertebrate culture


Socio-economic systems related to aquaculture

  • Integrated socio-ecological impacts and policy
  • Stakeholder and policy mapping


Contact details



Aquaculture research projects

Check out our short film about the new SAMS coordinated EU AquaSpace project:

IDREEM: Increasing Industrial Resource Efficiency in European Mariculture

For more info: Visit the IDREEM project website

Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is a concept where different species (e.g. fin-fish, bivalves, seaweeds) are grown together in such a way that the invertebrates and/or plants can recycle the nutrients that are lost from the culture of the other species.  The result is a net reduction of losses to the environment plus new crops to harvest and sell.

Despite being practiced for centuries in freshwater systems, particularly in China, Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture is only practiced in the EU by a few specialist companies. The IDREEM project is dedicated to finding out why this is the case and to considering the issues and bottlenecks that may prevent development of this eco-efficient practice.

We will consider social, economic and environmental issues with a view to improving our understanding of the technological and financial issues that may stand in the way of Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture being adopted by aquaculture enterprises and also the social issues that influence consumers and the general public so that we can better understand market issues.

The results will focus on providing routes to Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture for enterprises in order to create new employment and growth opportunities as well as tasty, healthy seafood and other products. For more information please visit the IDREEM webpage or contact Marieke Steuben at SAMS.

UK Partners

  • Loch Fyne Oysters
  • Viking Fish Farm
  • Scottish Salmon Company
  • Longline Environment Ltd

For full List of EU Partners see IDREEM Partners


DEPOMOD and MERAMOD are computer models used for planning and monitoring of sea cage aquaculture. They were initially developed for Atlantic salmonid farms (DEPOMOD) and sea bass and bream farms in the Mediterranean (MERAMOD).

With site-specific information on the current velocity and direction, depth and husbandry characteristics such as feed input and cage layouts, predictions of waste faecal and feed deposition and associated benthic impact near the farms can be obtained. These sea cage aquaculture models assist with regulation of the farms and provide guidance to the industry on selection of sites with good husbandry characteristics. In the UK, the DEPOMOD model is the basis for the AutoDEPOMOD regulatory software package. Several academic papers have been published describing this work.

This project, funded by the Scottish Government, will complete at the end of 2014 with the following aims:

  1. to recode AutoDEPOMOD in Java in a form that will operate independently of third-party software
  2. to improve the modelling of re-suspension processes informed by a programme of field and laboratory studies.

Partners: Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Government

For more detailed information, contact our programmer Trevor Carpenter.

Early warning and risk assessment of shellfish toxicity

It is critical to the survival and development of the shellfish aquaculture industry that harvested shellfish are safe for human consumption. Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) pose a serious risk to the industry as toxic algae become bio-accumulated in shellfish flesh, which if subsequently digested by humans serious, in some cases fatal, illnesses including Paralytic, Amnesic and Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning.

Early warning of the likely appearance of HABs allows the shellfish aquaculture sector to plan their harvesting operations in conjunction with their customers. In UK waters the timing, location and magnitude of HABs and subsequent shellfish toxicity is spatially and temporally variable. This makes HAB/shellfish toxicity prediction difficult.

This project seeks to develop a method of enhanced risk assessment for shellfish toxicity that will be based on scientific assessment of a range of data streams,  including: the abundance of different HAB species, concentrations different of shellfish biotoxins, satellite derived sea surface chlorophyll (an index of overall phytoplankton biomass), sea surface temperature and meteorological information. Trends are summarised graphically and analysed by expert interpretation to generate a risk assessment.

This information is primarily presented visually through annotated data products (primarily maps), with associated text commentary/interpretation, to make it as accessible to industry as possible. For more detailed information on our HAB research, please contact Professor Keith Davidson.

Partners: Seafood Shetland

Other aquaculture projects


Seaweed as a Solution for Sustainable Economic and Environmental Development: TSB Agri-tech Catalyst Pre Industrial Feasibility Study which aims to address the feasibility of developing commercially viable tank based seaweed cultivation systems.  Partners: Otter Ferry Seafish Ltd, Celtic Sea Spice Company Limited (trading as Mara)


TSB/NERC Feasibility Study which aims to assess the feasibility of developing a risk assessment tool for the Aquaculture Insurance Industry to assess the risk to businesses associated with HAB events. Partners: SeaZone, Willis Aquaculture Insurance


Case studies

Case studies

This page is under development:

  • Harmful Algal Blooms
  • MaraWeed (tank-based seaweed cultivation)

Scottish Fish Farm



BSc (Hons) Marine Science

SAMS runs an undergraduate programme in marine science that features aquaculture in a variety of modules and a dedicated aquaculture module in the third year. Several students every year also conduct their dissertation research on an aquaculture related topic More...


Master in Aquaculture, Environment and Society

Our Joint Master Degree in AquaCulture, Environment and Society (ACES) - See more at:

Our Erasmus+ Joint Masters in Aquaculture, Environment and Society is a two-year full-time course for highly talented European and international students who are aiming to lead the aquaculture industry in the future. The course is a collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands (of which SAMS is a partner) with the universities of Crete (Greece) and Nantes (France) and with a host of industrial partners. Students spend a semester in each partner university thereby gaining an outstanding overview over different areas of aquaculture and develop a international network of professional contacts and industrial experience. Up to 25 fully funded scholarships are available. More...

full-time, 2 year course is specifically targeted at highly talented European and International students with a Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in one of the fields of aquacultyre, marine science or marine biology, biology, environmental or social sciences, who wish to advance their skills. - See more at:
full-time, 2 year course is specifically targeted at highly talented European and International students with a Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in one of the fields of aquacultyre, marine science or marine biology, biology, environmental or social sciences, who wish to advance their skills. - See more at:
full-time, 2 year course is specifically targeted at highly talented European and International students with a Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in one of the fields of aquacultyre, marine science or marine biology, biology, environmental or social sciences, who wish to advance their skills. - See more at:


Aquaculture facilities and capabilities at SAMS

SAMS has outstanding research infrastructure and capabilities for aquaculture research:

Invertebrate aquaculture at SAMS Cryostore by John Day SAMS Seaweed harvest2 RV Calanus

Alan Ansell Aquarium tanks with Zoe Debi_III_small Analytical chemistry laboratory 1st floor

Our contact details

Centre for Aquaculture
SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK