Escaped salmon are a problem for the fish-farming industry. Is it possible to identify the fish-farm from which salmon have escaped by testing a sample of their DNA? Scientists at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen have been looking into the prospects of doing so.
Escapees are a major problem for fish farming, not only for the farmers who lose their fish, but also for stocks of wild salmon. This is because cultivated salmon have been bred to thrive in an artificial environment without predators, with plenty of food and without the need to migrate and orient over huge geographic distances. When these characteristics of farmed salmon are cross-bred into wild salmon stocks, we end up with salmon that are less well adapted to life in their natural environment, and such stocks suffer higher mortality rates.
For this reason, it has been suggested that natural DNA markers that are found in all salmon might be used to trace escapees back to the ongrowing farm from which they have escaped, so that future inspections could be concentrated on farms that tend to lose fish.
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