Break­through in breed­ing ‘happy’ ster­ile sal­mon

Fish Farmer - - News -

THE Nor­we­gian food re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion Nofima has cracked the code which will al­low sal­mon farm­ers to pro­duce ster­ile fish.

The break­through, which has taken more than 10 years to achieve, is not only ex­pected to bring en­vi­ron­men­tal and wel­fare ben­e­fits, but should also help al­lay con­tam­i­na­tion fears on wild fish when farmed sal­mon es­cape, which has long been the sub­ject of protests by an­gling and en­vi­ron­men­tal lob­bies.

Nofima (the Nor­we­gian In­sti­tute of Food, Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture Re­search) says it has de­vel­oped sal­mon that can­not pro­duce re­pro­duc­tive cells. The work was car­ried out at Nofima’s pro­duc­tion plant in Kårvika, in the Troms re­gion, where more than 2,000 ster­ile sal­mon are cur­rently float­ing in tanks.

Senior sci­en­tist Helge Tveiten said he was de­lighted with the re­sults, adding that all the signs showed ster­ile sal­mon ‘were as happy’ as any other sal­mon.

The re­searchers have found a method that not only curbs the fish’s abil­ity to re­pro­duce, and noth­ing else, but the sal­mon in the ex­per­i­ment have man­aged to reach one year of age, with each weigh­ing around 300g.

‘The sal­mon we have bred do not de­velop sex cells,’ said Tveiten. ‘There is a very small root bag in the fe­male fish, but no eggs are formed.

‘Based on the stud­ies done so far, the ster­ile fish have the same ap­pear­ance and char­ac­ter­is­tics as fer­tile sal­mon.’

Tveiten and his team’s work led to the cre­ation of a project ti­tled Sal­moS­ter­ile, which is part of the BIOTEK 2021 pro­gramme funded by the Re­search Coun­cil of Nor­way.

The project is a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nor­way’s In­sti­tute of Ma­rine Re­search and sev­eral key in­dus­trial play­ers, in­clud­ing AquaGen, the largest sup­plier of eggs to the sal­mon in­dus­try.

Tveiten said the goal of Sal­moS­ter­ile has al­ways been to find a harm­less and un­prob­lem­atic method of ster­il­i­sa­tion of farmed fish.

Sal­mon farm­ers and egg sup­pli­ers now be­lieve this ster­il­i­sa­tion method should help to solve many of the cur­rent chal­lenges fac­ing the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try.

Tveiten be­lieved there may also be com­mer­cial ben­e­fits as the meat qual­ity of sex­u­ally ma­ture sal­mon de­te­ri­o­rates faster.

Above: Helge Tveiten de­lighted with the re­sults

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