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Salmon Breeding is the key fundamental

The chairman of one of the world's leading salmon breeding companies has encouraged aquaculture business leaders to regard fish breeding as a key fundamental of today's aquaculture industry

The chairman of one of the world's leading salmon breeding companies has encouraged aquaculture business leaders to regard fish breeding as a key fundamental of today's aquaculture industry.

Hugh Currie, chairman of the Scotland and Chile based breeding company, Landcatch Ltd., was commenting ahead of AquaVision, the industry's biennial business summit held in Stavanger, Norway, for which this year's chosen theme is:‘Know the Fundamentals - Create Your Future'.

"The whole industry, across many species, is entering a period of enormous challenge and it's vital that we apply all our technical, knowledge-based resources to keep aquaculture moving forward," said Mr Currie.

"The fall-out from the credit crunch is already having an impact on consumer buying patterns, including food p urchases. In addition, the rising cost of energy and raw materials is putting enormous pressure on the costs of production. It's against this background, therefore, that I believe we need to combine every possible industry resource to promote aquaculture as a sustainable and profitable enterprise which is attractive to investors.

"Too often in the past our industry has tried to address problems on a piecemeal basis. When combating a new disease, for example, the unilateral solution has been to develop a new vaccine. When looking for better feed utilisation, producers have turned to innovative feed products. It's been the same when dealing with fish mortality, environmental impact, growth rates and so on.

"Many of the solutions which have been produced have been very effective, of course. We would have been a20lot worse off today without the industry's many new feeds, vaccines, etc. My point, however, is that the contribution of breeding has been overlooked when, in fact, the fundamental fitness of each individual fish should be viewed as the foundation upon which every other innovation should be built. World class pedigree breeding programmes, which select parent broodstock for their all-round performance, produce individual fish with an enhanced capability of delivering improved results in the commercial environment.

Breeding solutions to PD
"Take, for example, Norway's current troubles with pancreas disease (PD). It's obviously right for producers to be using vaccination to help combat this threat. At the same time, however, we believe there are some good fundamental breeding solutions to PD. Surely , therefore, the ultimate strategy for minimising the effect of PD is to vaccinate fish which have already been identified, through their breeding, as showing resistance to PD. That's just two components of what should be a multilateral approach to the PD issue.

"Breeding improvements have an impact on many areas of efficient production. As we move, potentially, into a period of high raw material costs, for example, it's going to be vital to have farmed strains of fish which have been bred to cope with different feeds and changing feeding regimes.

"In addition, a strong all-round resistance to disease is always going to be important in production. This includes an ability to respond effectively to vaccination.

"As salmon breeders, we can now produce almost whatever farmers want in terms of the balance between growth rates, disease resistance, flesh quality and diet utilisation. With this as a foundation, producers can farm stock which have been specially bred for the requirements of modern aquaculture, and do so with confidence.

"That's the background from which I'm approaching AquaVision, fully convinced of the value of addressing today's pressures and problems by multilaterally making full use of emerging technologies. From that position, I believe aquaculture has a bright future as a sustainable and profitable means of producing healthy and nutritious food."