Breeding Programs and Conservation
net pens at our industry partner Yellow Island Aquaculture Ltd on
Quadra Island, British Columbia.
Daniel Heath at Yellow Island Aquaculture.
re-circulating spawning channels at Yellow
Aquaculture; the structures in the
background are used for behavioural
observations during spawning.
is now recognized that the capture fisheries alone are unable to
sustain demand for seafood consumption and that aquaculture, or
fish farming, is a key component of the solution. Indeed, salmon
aquaculture is one of Canada’s fastest growing industries
and it is valued at over 600 million dollars each year. Over the
past decade, Canada has seen the emergence of the aquaculture industry
focusing on Atlantic salmon. However, the potential impact of escaped
farmed Atlantic salmon on our west coast, where they represent an
invasive species, has hampered growth in Canada’s aquaculture
industry. Farming of native Pacific salmon such as Chinook is an
alternative, but less is known about successful farming practices
of these species. Thus, although farming of Pacific salmon represents
a strong market with growth potential, it faces unique challenges.
Our research will provide research needed to develop efficient and
effective farming practices, and will help to develop the industry
and make Canada a global leader in the farming of Pacific salmon.
aquaculture practices are based on breeding techniques developed
within the salmon enhancement program. These techniques typically
mate randomly chosen females and males in a 1:1 ratio. However,
these traditional aquaculture practices have led to phenotypic and
genetic divergence of farmed fish from wild fish through both environmental
and evolutionary processes. We propose that artificial breeding
programs, for both aquaculture and enhancement of wild populations,
will benefit by incorporating SEXUAL SELECTION
into the breeding programs. Sexual selection can increase offspring
performance through increased GENETIC QUALITY.
For example, research on fish and mammals has demonstrated that
mate choice can increase immunity and survivorship of offspring
by enhancing favourable allelic combinations of genes at the MAJOR
We have partnered with Yellow Island Aquaculture Ltd, which is a
fish farm located on Quadra Island in British Columbia that is dedicated
to ORGANIC PRODUCTION
of Chinook Salmon. Yellow Island Aquaculture infrastructure consists
of six re-circulating freshwater spawning channels for research
(and eventually for production), a hatchery facility with vertical
stack incubation trays and rearing tanks, and saltwater netpen rearing
facilities. It has run a Chinook salmon production and broodstock
program since 1986. The broodstock was founded with gametes taken
from the Robertson Creek hatchery on Vancouver Island.