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Something fishy at Heriot-Watt: The ICBF conference comes to Edinburgh


More than 400 fish experts from across the world are arriving at the University's Edinburgh Campus for the International Congress on the Biology of Fish (ICBF).

The five day conference, held every two years, draws an international audience dedicated to fish research covering areas such as aquaculture physiology (nutrition, parasites and disease), swimming and migratory physiology, ecological physiology, environmental stress and toxicology in both fresh and seawater species.

Heriot-Watt Associate Professor of Marine Biology Dr Mark Hartl is hosting the event, which has returned to Scotland for the first time since 2000. He said, "Fish are natural resources which support a multi-million pound industry both in Europe and throughout the world, but are also highly sensitive to ecological change. In our efforts to cultivate fish supplies or to harvest wild fish there are many areas where scientific research is crucial to long-term viability.

"The scientists attending the Congress are experts in fish physiology, which means there are wide-ranging topics under discussion. We will have papers on toxicity and parasitical conditions in aquaculture to assessing species migration and what that might say about climate change.

"In Scotland alone, aquaculture contributes up to £1.4 billion annually and supports 8000 jobs. A strong fisheries industry is reliant on well-managed and healthy stocks. Understanding fish physiology, and what makes them tick, especially in a changing environment, can make all the difference in managing this delicately balanced resource."

Papers presented at the conference will fall under a range of topics, including:

  • Fish in a toxic world: biomarkers and impacts of exposure
  • Climate change and expanding dead zones: from the Tropics to the Poles, how will fish adapt?
  • Stress in Fish: mechanisms, responses and adaptations
  • Air breathing fish in nature and aquaculture
  • Application of physiology to improve fish culture
  • Parasites and diseases of fish
  • Winter fish biology

The Congress runs from 3-7 August 2014 and is the American Fisheries Society's Physiology Section meeting. It has drawn experts from Australasia, North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Dr Hartl is the Immediate Past President of Physiology Section and he specialises in Marine Ecotoxicology, with a particular interest in the environmental impact of engineered nanomaterials and plastic litter.

You can find out more details about the American Fisheries Society, the Physiology Section and the scientific programme at ICBF 2014.