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Assessment of genetic interactions of farmed fish on wild populations of Atlantic salmon in the Maritimes Region



Genetic interactions between wild Atlantic Salmon populations and escaped aquaculture salmon should be prevented as interbreeding can negatively affect wild species. It can take many generations for these populations to recover from these effects, if they do so at all. Therefore, when possible, such interactions should be prevented. Finding and removing escaped aquaculture-origin fish following escape events is a widely-used management measure to reduce interactions in some salmon regions of the world like Norway. Because many wild Atlantic Salmon populations are at critically low numbers, misidentifying and removing wild fish or failing to recognize and remove escaped fish could harm the population. 

One potential method to rapidly identify escaped fish at the stream side is by evaluating their scales. While aquaculture conditions result in changes in salmon scales that are thought to be observable by trained individuals, it is unclear how accurate this method is. Information on the accuracy of the method is needed to assess the potential risks associated with using it to find and remove escaped fish as a mitigation following escape events.

This project will use genetic assignment to quantify the accuracy of scale-based identification to classify Atlantic Salmon as being of aquaculture or wild origin.

Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)



Principal Investigator(s)

Brendan Wringe
Researcher, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography


Team Member(s)

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