Can aquaculture genomics help feed our growing population?
As the world wrestles with the challenge of feeding a vast and growing population, there is an urgent need to professionalise and modernise aquaculture.
Oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface, but only produce 2% of our food, making the aquaculture industry the fastest growing form of protein production.
Benchmark’s Morten Rye believes advances in genetics can help the industry rise to this challenge by producing better performing animals.
It is not just about optimising growth and feed conversion, but also maintaining the animals’ health and welfare and the future sustainability of the industry.
Put simply, it is possible to identify and select the purest, fittest animals and magnify their genetic strengths through carefully balanced selection.
Cradle of global aquaculture
Akvaforsk Genetics, which joined Benchmark in 2015, is nestled amongst the untouched mountains, valleys and rivers of Sunndalsøra in Norway – the heart of where modern aquaculture originated when previous generations laid the foundations that led to today’s thriving salmon industry.
Morten and his team continue this entrepreneurial spirit today providing genetic services to a host of companies including the world’s leading Atlantic salmon producer, Marine Harvest.
Marine Harvest is well known for taking the lead in many innovations and breakthroughs. As well as making use of new technologies, such as offshore cage systems to increase coastal farming capacity, they recognise that sustainable genetic improvement of their stock is essential to their future growth and position within the aquaculture industry.
When it came down to the ‘make or buy’ decision – we decided to develop and deploy our own full-scale selective breeding program.
Arnesen is confident that sustained efforts in broodstock management and selective breeding will strengthen Marine Harvest’s business. By producing faster growing, more robust animals throughout its operations, the company aims to increase production volumes, improve cost-efficiency and shorten its production lifecycles.