2010/762 Study tour to Norway
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2010/762 Study tour to Norway

By Richard Taylor

The primary reason for this travel was to attend the Fish Breeders' Round Table in Stavanger, Norway. This is an international forum, where knowledge and experience is exchanged between fish breeding researchers and those involved in applied genetic improvement work on a commercial basis. The forum included over 30 presentations on genomics, genetic models and commercial application of fish breeding. Following the meeting the author visited research institutions and Atlantic Salmon breeding installations.

The main aim of this study was to examine attempts to select for 'robustness' in the Norwegian industry. A key concern is the increasing prevalence of production-related deformities in farmed salmonids which may have serious impact upon production. The fish welfare implication of malformations is a major ethical concern and has serious implications for consumer perceptions of the aquaculture industry. One key finding has been the increased level of heart deformities, which appear to be caused by the rearing environment (exercise and nutrition) but may also be influenced by genetics. Heart abnormalities have serious implications for the robustness of farmed fish. This study tour therefore aimed to understand current efforts to measure genetic contribution to robustness and heart health and the strategies that are being considered to ameliorate this issue. The concept of robustness or resilience has particular application in the Tasmanian salmon industry because fish are frequently handled for amoebic gill disease (AGD) treatment and regularly suffer a level of handling losses.

One issue encountered by the Tasmanian salmon industry is 'Summer Gut Syndrome', a condition that causes some fish to produce yellow 'casts' and become emaciated during summer. This study tour allowed the author to meet with members of the Aquaculture Protein Centre in Oslo and Sunndalsøra. The techniques discussed for examining changes in gut function related to diet and environment and can be directly applied to the Summer Gut Syndrome condition.