The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute in Iceland is attempting to breed sexless farmed salmon. Local news reports that the objective is to prevent farmed salmon from becoming sexually mature and being able to spawn with the naturally occurring local salmon population. If this project is successful, the result would also be applied to farmed Arctic char populations.
The project is being undertaken in collaboration with StofnFiskur, an organization involved in aquaculture breeding and genetics, and the University of Maryland, which holds the copyright on the process.
Gene suppression is used and is not considered genetic modification. Research Institute Director, Ragnar Jóhannsson, believes that this method is more promising than experiments with tri-chromosome triploid fish, as it involves less intervention. “What seems to have been the biggest problems with the tri-chromosome fish is that there have been more deformations and death and that seems to be because they can’t tolerate temperatures that are high or too low as well. And we have more than enough low temperatures here in Iceland", said to local news.
The project is still in the testing phase. “If we can produce fish that are sexless, there won’t be any danger if they get into rivers that they interfere with the naturally occurring fish,” says Ragnar.
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