Aerial photo of large fish farming unit of sea bass and sea bream in growing cages in calm deep waters of Galaxidi area, Greece.  Depicting sustainable aquaculture.
How do we sustainably feed a growing global population in the face of collapsing wild fisheries, depleted topsoil, and a changing climate? Advancements in sustainable aquaculture and data-informed animal husbandry are becoming an increasingly important contributor to food security.

The Government Food Strategy calls for safe, healthy, affordable food, regardless of where people live or how much they earn, that restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation.
At Plymouth, our expertise in freshwater and marine aquaculture, enables us to fully integrate and study food production systems across both terrestrial and aquatic environments.
Working in the field is a key element of our agriculture research, informing innovative projects like our Living Laboratory, which monitors livestock behaviour and welfare in challenging upland environments.
Partnerships underpin our work and we collaborate with both national industry stakeholders and local community initiatives to provide the evidence base to support the implementation of productive and sustainable food systems.
Using a systems-thinking approach to address the complexities of food production management, we provide innovative solutions to deliver national impact and secure a sustainable future.

Our areas of expertise


Featured production health and welfare research

Data-driven approaches to livestock monitoring

Developing technologically-integrated solutions for sustainable farming can lead to improved efficiency and cheaper costs, and contributes towards meeting Net Zero targets.
Our animal behaviour and welfare team are using big data and practical, in-field tracking techniques involving GPS collars and accelerometers to analyse animal movement patterns, as well as a range of technologies, such as thermal imaging and GIS mapping, to study the health, welfare and environmental impacts of both wild and captive livestock.
Sheep in a controlled data test site

Piloting Precision Pastoralism

Working in collaboration with the Duchy of Cornwall and the Central Dartmoor Farm Cluster Group, Dr Mark Whiteside is developing a pilot system to track grazer animal movement across landscapes and monitor their impact on the local environment.
This project will integrate advances in precision livestock farming – movement ecology, accelerometery and mapping – into upland farming practice. Big data generated will both help inform pastoral farmers about animal health, welfare and behaviour, and also provide an understanding of the role of livestock in ecosystem services and nature-based solutions.
Sheep with a biologger collar

Animal-Mounted Living Laboratory

This research project integrates cutting-edge advances in animal-mounted sensor technologies with the latest automation to create a ‘living laboratory’. It aims to bring both the upland farming and the game industry into the precision livestock framework. 
In contrast to productive systems that are closed and carefully controlled, this research project embraces the real-world uncertainty of an open and complex environment, providing not only high-throughput, real-time information about an animal’s movement, behaviour and physiology, but also data on the local environmental conditions being experienced and how these interact.
Thermal image of a sheep with mapping tracking movements

Developing expertise in aquaculture

Facilities in the fish health and nutrition research laboratories

Collaborating to advance fish health and nutrition

Our Fish Health and Nutrition research team actively engages with hatcheries, aquaculture farms and other national and international organisations to conduct research and develop practical solutions.
Using high-precision aquaculture facilities for both marine and freshwater procedures, we are collaborating with industry a wide range of themes, from immunological responses to infection, to the impact of climate change on natural toxicity risk in aquaculture. In particular, our work on fish nutrition, gut health and functional feed additives has been at the forefront of advances in freshwater aquaculture. 

Monitoring the impact on sustainable fisheries

Our work extends to the environmental consequences of productive systems. We have particular expertise in using a systems-thinking approach to delivering our partnership projects in the marine environment, from evaluating the impacts of large-scale offshore mussel farms on surrounding habitats, to employing AI systems and remote operated vehicles to assess fisheries biodiversity over the long term.
Working with key industry partners, such as Defra's Fisheries Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) scheme, we are providing the evidence base to highlight how productive food systems can deliver biodiversity and ecosystem benefits.
Fish Ropes

Industry research partnerships

These projects are funded by Defra’s Fisheries in Science Partnership (FISP) scheme, and delivered in collaboration with key industry partners.

Ropes to Reefs project logo

Ropes to Reefs FISP
Assessing the wider benefits of the UK’s first large-scale offshore mussel farm, located in Lyme Bay off the south coast of Devon.

Angling for Sustainability logo

Angling for Sustainability
Supporting sustainable fisheries management by tracking shark, ray and black bream movements along the south coast.

Pollack FISP

Pollack FISP
Collecting vital data about pollack movement, habitat choice, populations and life history using acoustic tags.




Collaborate with us

We are keen to collaborate with farmers, landowners and industry partners to further develop our research-driven approach to agriculture and aquaculture. For more information about our work, or to enquire about partnerships, please contact:
Professor Richard Preziosi, Director, CRISPS, and Head of School, Biological and Marine Sciences:
Dr Jennifer Rowntree, Deputy Director, CRISPS, and Associate Professor of Ecological Genetics:
Centre for Systems Thinking

Centre for Systems Thinking: Ocean, Land and Society

The Centre for Systems Thinking: Ocean, Land and Society champions a whole-system transdisciplinary approach to solutions-oriented research to improve planetary health. The Centre brings together an unrivalled critical mass of catchment-coast-ocean expertise from across the University’s Strategic Research Institutes to address 21st-century challenges alongside national and international policy. 

Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy 

In response to climate change imperatives, we are bringing together a critical mass of leading research and expertise from across the University of Plymouth. Through co-creation and collaboration with partners from business, government and key communities from across the globe, the Centre aims to be a beacon for the University’s whole-system transdisciplinary approach to solutions-oriented research, accelerating sustainable developments in decarbonisation and renewable energy.
Centre for Decarbonisation and Offshore Renewable Energy

Interdisciplinary Strategic Institutes

Our diverse research spans three Strategic Institutes. Collaborative endeavour in rich, natural environments drives solutions to global challenges.

Aerial view from high altitude of little planet earth with small village houses and distant green cultivated agricultural fields with growing crops on bright summer evening

Sustainable Earth Institute
Science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business, with community, businesses and individuals, innovate to build resilience for our planet.

Close-up wave

Marine Institute
Marine, maritime, education and innovation expertise integrate to train scientists, engineers, policymakers, artists, technicians and business.

abstract medical pharmacy healthcare innovative concept background

Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR)
Transformation in life course, ageing, methodologies, e-health, technology and interventions in health, social care, lifestyle, health and wellbeing.