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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #321598

Research Project: Genetic Improvement Of Marine Fish and Shellfish

Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Title: Selection responses for caracass weight in four Atlantic Salmon year classes

item Wolters, William
item Burr, Gary

Submitted to: Aquaculture Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2014
Publication Date: 1/14/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Wolters, W.R., Burr, G.S. 2015. Selection responses for caracass weight in four Atlantic Salmon year classes. Aquaculture Conference Proceedings. 1:88.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, aquaculture is one of the most successful global aquaculture enterprises, and has wide acceptance as a main food item by American consumers. US production of Atlantic salmon is concentrated in Maine and Washington. The initial focus of the USDA applied Atlantic salmon breeding program has been on growth or carcass weight utilizing certified North American stocks. Additional traits such as fillet color, fillet fat, susceptibility to sea lice, and resistance to superchill are currently being selected. Sexual maturity is not evaluated in net pen fish as they are cultured under lights, however, sexual maturation is recorded on captive broodfish for each generation. Smolts from each year class were stocked into net pens and growth data collected at a processing plant along with tissue samples for fillet quality analysis. Performance of salmon from each year class is compared to a control line of non-selected wild fish. There has been significant variation in growth between fish from the breeding program, control fish, and growth of the different year classes. Carcass weight of salmon from the breeding program ranged from 3.7 to 5.7 kg depending on length of the culture period and was 57% to 141% larger than wild control fish. Estimated breeding values for carcass weight in the breeding nucleus (all families in the breeding program) ranged from 0.33 kg to 0.52 kg. Estimated breeding values for carcass weight in multipliers (future industry broodfish) ranged from 0.61 to 0.77. Carcass weights of fish produced from multiplier families were significantly higher than fish in the breeding nucleus and ranged from 4.9 to 5.8 kg. Additional traits are also being evaluated in the salmon breeding program. Susceptibility to sea lice has been evaluated with tank challenges and natural infections in sea cages. Fillet pigment has been measured with HPLC extraction, from the red a* value from a colorimeter, and VIS/NIR spectroscopy. Fillet fat has been measured with VIS/NIR spectroscopy and automated fat extraction. Future plans are to evaluate markers and for disease resistance traits (IPN, sea lice), and develop a selection index for traits of economic importance as determined by industry priorities.