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UK Aquaculture Initiative

The UK Aquaculture Initiative is a joint BBSRC and NERC initiative to support high-quality, innovative research and research translation within a growing community of people working together towards a mutual goal of developing a healthy, safe and sustainable UK aquaculture system.

By funding projects that incorporate both the environmental and biological sciences, this cross-research council initiative will bring together diverse expertise, knowledge, skills and facilities to deliver innovative approaches to solving industry challenges. In doing so, it will strengthen the research community to underpin the long-term needs of industry through interdisciplinary research, research translation, and the provision of training.

Following an initial research call in 2014, the second phase of the Initiative is focused on further building the BBSRC- and NERC-funded aquaculture research community, linking it to supply chain and end-user companies and equipping the community to address industry research challenges.


  • To support high-quality, innovative, strategic research within UK higher education institutions and centres
  • To build UK academic capability and underpinning capacity to meet the long term needs of industry
  • To encourage cross-discipline working and draw in new researchers to the aquaculture sector
  • To support the translation of existing research data and knowledge into new tools, technologies and solutions
  • To ensure the exchange of knowledge between the academic science base and industry through the support of effective networking between academic groups and businesses
  • To build a community of people working together towards a mutual goal of developing a healthy, safe and sustainable UK aquaculture system.

Research challenges

In-depth discussion with aquaculture companies identified a number of research areas important across the sector:

  • Monitoring and control of health and disease
  • Sustainable, nutritional feedstock
  • Understanding and managing the effects of aquaculture on the environment
  • Understanding and managing the effects of the environment on aquaculture
  • Breeding and genetics approaches for stock enhancement
  • Finfish welfare.

Three central themes cut across all the research challenges:

  1. New facilities and technologies for monitoring and predicting risks, and to enhance the capacity of aquaculture.
  2. Data sharing and management.
  3. Safe food for human consumption.

UK Aquaculture Initiative: Innovation Projects

NERC and BBSRC invited proposals for innovation projects to the UK Aquaculture Initiative. Approximately £1.2 million of funding was available for projects that meet the needs of the UK aquaculture industry and create sustainable, tangible economic or societal benefits.

The six successful innovation projects will utilise the wealth of existing research, data and expertise to enable the development of technologies and solutions for the benefit of practitioners and decision-makers.

UK Aquaculture Initiative: Networks in Aquaculture

Proposals were invited for Networks in Aquaculture in early 2016. Up to £600,000 was available for up to two networks focussing on finfish and shellfish.

The funding was awarded in March 2017 to one Network: the Aquaculture Research Collaborative Hub (ARCH-UK). ARCH-UK will facilitate the development of a community of people that works together towards a mutual goal of sustainable aquaculture systems and work with the research councils to help ensure their investments supports high-quality, innovative, research that builds UK academic capability and underpinning capacity and meets the long term needs of the sector. For further information, and to join the network, please visit the ARCH-UK website (see external links).

UK Aquaculture Initiative: Collaborative Research and Innovation Projects

On 17 November 2017 BBSRC/NERC will launch a call for collaborative research and innovation proposals in aquaculture. £4.4 million is available through this call and it will be the final call funded through the UK Aquaculture Initiative. For more information see: Pre-announcement: BBSRC/NERC Joint Call in Aquaculture: Collaborative Research and Innovation. Full details on the scope will be released when the call is launched.

In order to support applicants and facilitate networking and consortia building BBSRC/NERC will host a call launch workshop on 6 December 2017 in London. Further details can be found on the event webpage and registration will open in early November.