Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Sterilise farmed salmon to save wild species, critics say

Millions of farmed fish escape globally each year, destroying wild salmons' genetic traits

Sunday 09 March 2014

Farmed salmon escaping into rivers and the sea are posing such a threat to declining wild populations that sterilisation should be compulsory, researchers have concluded.

Millions of farmed salmon are able to escape globally each year and there is increasing evidence they are destroying genetic traits evolved by the wild populations.

More than 95 per cent of the world’s Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, are farmed, and a new study assessing their breeding capacity has found that the farmed stocks are just as fertile as the wild populations. They are also more aggressive, helping them out-compete their wild rivals.

Scientists now fear that wild populations will be damaged irreversibly, losing traits that have evolved to keep them adapted to their environment, unless sterilisation is introduced as mandatory.

Publication of the study comes just days after it was confirmed that more than 150,000 fish escaped the Ness of Copister farm in Shetland when the net cages containing them were damaged in the January storms.

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