Key to salmon success is in the genes

By Louise Jeckells

29 November 2019

3 minute read

Gill test on salmon

David Cameron from Tassal performing a Gill check. This is an essential part of the operation of the breeding program and has been central to its success.

Planning to tuck into some salmon this festive season? Well you’ll be happy to know we’re part of the reason that fish will be big and tasty.

We love our Aussie-grown salmon and around the world more people are relying on fish for protein. Naturally, they also lick their lips over our superior produce. So as demand for Tasmanian salmon grows, we’ve chipped in to help the industry grow too.

Only the best salmon

Working alongside our partners SALTAS, Tassal and Huon Aquaculture, we’ve transformed the salmon industry through genetic improvement.

We brought together experts from a range of areas including breeders, biologists, geneticists, data systems scientists and electronics engineers. Together we created and commercialised a world-leading aquaculture breeding program.

By selecting key genetic traits in the fish we can grow the best salmon. And the proof is in the pudding. The results show that our salmon grew 35 per cent faster growth and were 40 per cent more resistant to disease. Plus these benefits keep improving, increasing about five per cent every year. Watch the video below for more detail on the science.

An award-winning collaboration

The breeding program now underpins the whole industry and has been central to its growth. Project leader Peter Kube said solid science was key to their success. As a result, the team were received the 2019 CSIRO Chairman’s Medal for Science Excellence.

“The industry trusted the science and has always supported innovation and continuous improvement,” Peter said.

“The partnership has led to world‐leading science in the industry ensuring it’s ready to take on future challenges like food security.

“Everyone came with different skills and made their own unique contributions to the project,” he said.

Salmon embryos

Developing salmon embryos where you can see the eyes. These are the result of the breeding crosses.

The new venture

The team is now working to improve other seafood over summer. This is a concern for industry due to rising water temperatures.

They are looking for seafood better suited to warmer waters and we believe this is something we can help with.

So, when you’re next enjoying a meal of salmon, think of us. On the other hand, if prawns are more your choice, we’ve got you covered there too.

While you’re at it…