Institute of Aquaculture Oral History

Our Story


farm on Lake Volta 1971 saw Prof Ron Roberts establishing a Unit of Aquatic Pathobiology, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, to carry out research and training in fish diseases. In 1980, the Unit of Aquatic Pathology formally became the Institute of Aquaculture (IoA) of the University of Stirling. In 2021, along with the aquaculture industry in Scotland, it celebrated its 50th anniversary, having grown to become the leading Aquaculture Centre and one of the largest concentrations of expertise dedicated to aquaculture in the world. The Institute works with fish farmers, governments, regulatory bodies, industry, pharmaceutical companies, supply chains, veterinarians, and other academic institutions to tackle global problems of food security, hunger, and sustainability through aquaculture.

Global Reach:

wrasse With an early focus on Scottish and UK trout and salmon aquaculture, IoA soon widened its scope internationally. Long-term support from ODA, (now DFID) FAO, British Council, Worldfish and other agencies enabled IoA to have a powerful input to global aquaculture development. Research on aquaculture developments in tropical regions began early on and was strengthened in 1979 in partnership with ODA, resulting in the construction of tropical research facilities in the Institute and facilitating, projects in Israel, Kenya, Bangladesh, Mexico, and many more. In 1978 a large tropical aquarium was opened to maintain a tilapia reference collection, together with broodstock, to produce large quantities of fish fry and prawn larvae for research using finely controlled experimental tank systems. In 1995 the Institute was awarded the Queen's Award for Export Achievement.

Partnership with Aquaculture Industry

soxhlet IoA has maintained a close working relationship with industry since its inception. The Institute's research and business hub offers consultancy and expertise in developing technologies and practices tailored to the industry, utilising its staff, facilities and networks. With commercial scale freshwater research facilities at Howietown and Buckieburn, and seawater at the Marine Environmental Research Laboratory at Machrihanish, the Institute has been able to pioneer production of new species such as cod, halibut and wrasse, as well as triploid salmon and genetically selected broodstock of salmonids and tilapias.

Research Excellence:

IoA research has generated thousands of scientific publications, innumerable books and specialist reports. This high quality, high impact work has been recognised in successive Research Quality Assessments (RAE and REF) - with IoA consistently ranked very highly in the UK agriculture unit of assessment and winning the Queens Anniversary Prize for Research Excellence in 2019.

Teaching and Training:

netting fish IoA is a major international postgraduate Institute covering tropical and temperate finfish and shellfish in extensive and intensive culture. Doctoral training is a key part of the Institute's research portfolio; The Institute also offers an MSc degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Aquaculture, and the unique MSc in Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Aquatic Pathobiology. Stirling graduates are to be found in senior roles throughout world aquaculture. Industry, producer, and regulator-focused short courses at all levels have been a key feature since 1972 and continue to provide a targeted, upskilling CPD resource for aquaculturalists and veterinarians. IoA also offers specialist in-situ training and extension in many different countries through courses and workshops, resulting in long-term relationships around the globe.