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Genomic assessment of potential genetic interactions of the use of European Lumpfish as a cleaner fish in Atlantic salmon aquaculture in Newfoundland



Effective management of sea lice continues to be a priority for the Atlantic Salmon aquaculture industry and the use of cleaner fish for bioremediation has become an increasingly common alternative to chemical pesticides. In 2018, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Newfoundland and Labrador region received a request to import five million European-origin common Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) for use as cleaner fish in salmon aquaculture. Recent research has indicated that both escaped farmed salmon and other translocated cleaner fish species, such as corkwing wrasse (Symphodus melops), can hybridize with wild populations and pose a threat to the genetic integrity of wild populations. Given declines of around 58% in wild Lumpfish in southern Newfoundland over the last 20 years (Simpson et al. 2016), the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has recommended a “threatened” listing for Lumpfish. As such, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding the potential impact of European-origin Lumpfish on local populations. PARR-2018-NL-04 will characterize the population structure of wild and cultured Lumpfish populations in Atlantic Canada and Europe. Genome-wide screening and extensive sampling will be used to (1) identify stock structure among wild populations of Lumpfish in Atlantic Canada; (2) directly compare wild Lumpfish to both European and domestic aquaculture strains; and (3) to develop and test targeted single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) panels for the identification of wild-cultured hybrids. This project will both inform aquaculture management and Lumpfish conservation of the risks of importation of European Lumpfish and provide the tools to quantify possible genetic interactions that may result.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)



Principal investigator

Ian Bradbury
Research scientist, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, St. John’s, NL, A1C 5X1


Simpson, M.R., Gauthier, J., Benoît, H.P., MacDonald, D., Hedges, K., Collins, R., Mello, L., and Miri, C. 2016. A pre-COSEWIC assessment of the Common Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus, Linnaeus 1758) in Canadian Atlantic and Arctic waters. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2016/068: 135

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