Salmon alevin hatching (wikipedia image)

Salmon alevin hatching (wikipedia image)

WG5: STOCK IMPROVEMENT and enhancement


This WG will adopt a multidisciplinary approach to assess the wide issue of stock improvement in both finfish and shellfish. Selective improvement programmes are now in place for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, but the other fish species farmed in the UK are at an earlier stage in the domestication process. In shellfish breeding programs have been developed for oysters but not European mussels. Rapid advances in the applicability and cost of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology now means that genomic approaches can be more readily applied to the genetic management of new species, particularly in the early stages of the domestication process.

Key areas for this WG to explore:

a)    The Genome Wide Selection approach which is now being widely applied to species with established breeding programs to improve traits such as disease and parasite resistance. Some success has already been achieved in applying this approach to obtain improved viral resistance in Scottish and Norwegian salmon and some level of resistance to sealice. These technologies need to be extended to emerging species such as cleaner fish as well as bivales and to a wider range of resilience and post harvest traits.

b)    Control of breeding is also a priority in ongrowing fish populations in which early maturation usually leads to reduced performance, welfare and product quality impacting overall on the sector profitability.

c)     Improvement in the quality of seed for the industry through one-off manipulations in the hatchery that enable improved strains to reach their full growth potential; Environmental manipulation of light, temperature and water chemistry to ensure the correct development and timing of the young fish and maturing adults to match production requirements. The application of pressure of temperature shocks can be applied to embryos to generate single sex or sterile fish that minimise problems related to maturation during ongrowing and reducing the risks of escapees breeding with wild stocks.

d)    There is growing evidence for the importance of epigenetic and maternal programming that can have either long-term positive or negative effects on the performance of these animals and their offspring.