The effect of rearing density on stress and welfare of farm reared Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) over an entire production cycle
To remain competitive in the global market salmon producers must continually strive to reduce the cost of production. Fish rearing densities are critical in determining cost of production due to the capital cost of cages, feeding equipment and staff. However, there is always a potential conflict between maximizing stocking density thus reducing the cost of production while still maintaining optimal animal health and welfare. Despite the need to establish limits on stocking densities that are based on sound scientific data, this has not been possible for two reasons. First, the type of stress associated with the gradual increase in stocking density as fish increase in size is chronic and as such, difficult to measure. Second, in the past, commercial aquaculture companies have been unwilling to stock fish at different densities necessary to carry out a controlled experiment capable of assessing the effect of stocking densities on fish stress. Marine Harvest Canada has made an unprecedented commitment to this project allowing fish to be reared at three different stocking densities over an entire production cycle. This project represents a multi-disciplinary approach, including molecular genetics, functional immunology and fish welfare, for identifying measures of chronic stress.
2007 - 2009
Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast
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