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Atlantic Halibut Broodstock Research and Development

Halibut Atlantic HalibutBroodstock Research and Development
Joint Collaborative

Vinland Aqua-Farms Ltd has been involved in Atlantic halibut research and development since its incorporation in 2000. Vinland's goal is the establishment of a land-based facility capable of producing 500 tonnes of farmed halibut annually supplying local and international markets with fresh product throughout the year.

During the past three years Vinland Aqua-Farms has been working in collaboration with the Aquaculture Research and Development Facility (ARDF) at the Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) to refine and promote the growth of Atlantic halibut aquaculture within Atlantic Canada.

Currently in Atlantic Canada there are three additional companies interested in the commercial success of Atlantic halibut aquaculture;

  • R&R Fin Fish, Nova Scotia - Successfully growing halibut juveniles and supplying to grow out operations.
  • Scotian Halibut - In partnership with Icelandic firm, producing farmed halibut
  • Maritime Mariculture Inc, New Brunswick - Producing farmed halibut

In 2000 a collaborative agreement was reached between private industry and research institutions to establish an Atlantic halibut pedigree program within Atlantic Canada. This group includes six main participants:

  • Vinland Aqua-Farms Ltd. (NF),
  • R&R Finfish Ltd. (NS),
  • Maritime Mariculture Inc. (MMI, NB),
  • St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS, NB),
  • Institute for Marine Biosciences, National Research Council (NRC, NS), and
  • Aquaculture Research and Development Facility (ARDF/OSC, NL).

The goal of the Atlantic halibut pedigree program is the production of a strain of Atlantic halibut with improved performance food conversion efficiency and specific growth rate (FCR/SGR) attained through genetically selective pairing. A similar program is currently being undertaken for the Atlantic salmon industry, as after 20 years of culture the current cultured broodstock have no significant genetic variation from that of their wild counterparts.

Proponents of the Atlantic halibut industry are only now beginning to establish their domestic broodstock and view collaboration as a crucial and beneficial step in future success for those involved. Utilizing tools such as DNA profiling, monitoring juvenile performance and selective breeding, they can maximize the production gains and minimize potentially negative impacts (inbreeding/undesired characteristics).

This information can be used to determine genetic linkages with desirable traits thus forming the basis for a genetic map for Atlantic halibut and improving the selection process very early thus reducing the numbers of fish to be held with successive generations.

The pedigree program is expected to take between 10 - 15 years at the end of which time each participant will have access to an Atlantic halibut broodstock capable of producing juveniles which significantly out perform their wild counterparts. The importance of such a strain of halibut for a commercial operation is invaluable, as it will significantly lower production costs, enable a site to increase production without the need for additional infrastructure.

The level of commitment shown by the participants in the pedigree program indicates a strong belief in the future success of the Atlantic halibut aquaculture industry through Atlantic Canada.

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