Background and purpose of ARCH-UK

The UK aquaculture sector contributes around £600 million to a UK seafood industry worth at £6.3 billion in 2016. England, Wales and N. Ireland collectively produce 19,000 metric tons (mt) of shellfish and 9,200 mt of trout, with production coming mainly from SMEs. Scotland is a major producer of Atlantic salmon (>163,000 mt; third largest producer globally) and the industry is both highly consolidated and export focused. In Scotland there is also significant trout (6,000 mt) and shellfish (6,300 mt) production. There is also a significant and expanding aquaculture industry in England, Wales and Ireland, most notably for shellfish with the largest single UK shellfish farm in Southwest England.

In order for the UK to remain competitive within this rapidly growing sector, and ensure a sustainable future, it is essential that the expansion of the industry is supported by high quality, innovative research. This will lead to a better understanding of the basic biology, health and environmental interactions of farmed fish and shellfish.

ARCH-UK was established through the BBSRC/NERC Aquaculture Initiative which aims to provide solutions to the shared and specific issues currently preventing growth in all sectors of UK aquaculture industry. The initiative will do this by enabling the development of scientific knowledge and technological capability. ARCH-UK has been created to sign-post BBSRC/NERC funding to research areas that will make the most impact on the long term sustainable growth of aquaculture.

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ARCH-UK Structure

ARCH-UK Structure


  1. Create individual Working Group research priority reports which will be combined into a single ARCH-UK research priority report for BBSRC/NERC via consultation with a range of stakeholders. This was completed in 2017 to advise the 2018 round of BBSRC/NERC Aquaculture Initiative research call, worth £4 million.

  2. Develop a UK-wide aquaculture community of academics, industry members and government officials. Providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and networking.

  3. Foster collaborations that create new approaches to major research and innovation challenges by actively engaging with a wide range of researchers from engineering, economics, social science, remote sensing and computational modelling, among others.


ARCH-UK is a partnership between four universities, The University of Stirling (Lead Research Organisation), Swansea University, The University of Aberdeen and The University of Exeter. The network is managed through the Executive Management Team consisting of four Grant Holders and two Managers split between the University of Stirling and Swansea University. The University of Stirling office consists of Prof Herve Migaud (PI), Prof Sam Martin (Co-I at the University of Aberdeen) and Dr Joanna Gosling (Project Manager) who are responsible for managing Working Group 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8. The Swansea University office consists of Prof Andrew Rowley (PI), Prof Charles Tyler (Co-I at the University of Exeter) and James Taylor (Network Manager) and are responsible for managing Working Group 3, 4 and 7.

The Working Groups (WG) consist of a range of stakeholders (academia, industry, policy, business) from across the UK who have expertise relevant to the UK aquaculture industry. Each WG focuses on a key area relevant to safeguarding the future of aquaculture. They are as follows:

WG1: Finfish Nutrition
WG2: Finfish Health & Welfare
WG3: Shellfish Health & Disease
WG4: Human Health & Food Safety
WG5: Stock Improvement
WG6: Markets, Economics, Social Science & Technology Development
WG7: Environmental Interactions, Climate change & Capacity
WG8: Career Development & Training

Early Career Researcher (defined by ARCH-UK as within 10 years of PhD graduation) involvement is encouraged to ensure future research collaboration and communication.

In 2017, each WG developed a focused set of research priorities, reflecting the views of WG members and the wider community. The individual WG reports discussed medium to long term research requirements, specifically where sustainable development is hindered by lack of suitable infrastructure, manpower, resources or background knowledge. The WG reports also inform the future activities of each WG.

Cross-cutting themes from the WG reports were combined into a single ‘ARCH-UK Research Priorities Report’, submitted to BBSRC/NERC in 2017. WGs have continued to work together to develop collaborative projects, workshops and aid the research community response to funding calls. 


  • Has a UK-wide member base of aquaculture stakeholders, working at a national level.

  • Highlights research and skills gaps directly to BBSRC/NERC.

  • Focuses on increasing UK capacity for aquaculture research and innovation. Input and knowledge exchange with industry, policy and regulatory bodies are important for to achieving this goal and improving research impact where possible.

  • Aims to address fundamental research questions that drive the sustainable development of UK aquaculture.