Submitted to: United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2004
Publication Date: April 1, 2004
Citation: Wolters, W.R. Design and implementation of an applied atlantic salmon breeding program. 12th annual New England Farmed Fish Health Management Workshop, April 1, 2004, Eastport, ME, p.11. Maine Sea Grant Program, Orono, ME. Technical Abstract: Atlantic salmon aquaculture is one of the most successful global aquaculture enterprises, and farm-raised salmon has wide acceptance as a main food item by American consumers. The Northeastern U.S., and particularly the state of Maine, has an ideal location and unique opportunity to further increase salmon production and be a leader in cold-water marine finfish aquaculture. However, environmental issues and regulations, including the requirement for stocking of 100 percent native North American Atlantic salmon (in an effort to protect populations of federally endangered wild Atlantic salmon), and disease outbreaks have seriously impacted economic viability of the U.S. salmon industry. The USDA,ARS Atlantic salmon breeding program was initiated in 2003. Using a family based selection program, the program will develop improved North American salmon for U.S. producers and consumers. Eyed eggs from fall 2003 spawns were obtained from commercial, federal, and state hatcheries. Individual families and pooled family groups were obtained from St. John's River, Penobscot River, Gaspe (all-female and triploid all-female), and landlocked salmon stocks. Fish will be raised in individual tanks until they are large enough to be pit tagged and then stocked communally into larger tanks. Plans are to stock smolts into sea cages and evaluate them for growth and sexual maturity traits. Fish from the 2003 year class will be analyzed to determine differences between stocks, family variation, and the benefits from triploidy and mono-sex (all-female) culture. Following performance evaluations in sea cages, a selected group of fish will be retained and spawned at 4-years of age. Performance of progeny from these fish will determine the level of increased performance due to selection. The rate of progress in the breeding program will be determined by the selection intensity, the heritability, and variation for the individual traits.