Scientific research on farmed Arctic char
Science is the key to an environmentally sustainable and economically viable Arctic char industry. The following research initiatives profile the innovative ways in which Fisheries and Oceans Canada, industry, academic and other government researchers are working to optimize growth performance and environmental conditions in Arctic char aquaculture.
Arctic char’s capability to withstand seawater varies among different family lines of the fish. By investigating the genetic variation associated with growth performance in both freshwater and brackish water among full-sib families of Arctic char from the Shippagan strain, researchers are gaining insight into the more important genomic regions regulating growth in this species in both environments. They are also identifying genomic regions that permit survivorship and growth in full-strength seawater.
Innovative zootechnical measures are being implemented to assess their impact on productivity at commercial Arctic char aquaculture operations. The measures are aimed at reproduction and nursery operations to estimate the genetic variability of the Nauyuk strain in Quebec for genetic improvement and a strain development program. The initiative also seeks to identify the level of relatedness between spawners and optimal pairings/crosses, and to implement variable velocity conditions to significantly improve growth and the early identification of the highest-performing families.
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers is working to produce all-female stocks of Arctic char because the early sexual maturation in males is considered to be a serious constraint to the commercialization of Canada’s Fraser-Shippagan strain. Indirect feminization is the approach being used by feeding broodstock a male sex hormone and crossing the resulting neomales with normal females when they reach sexual maturity.
Researchers are monitoring Arctic char movement in sea cages to determine potential differences in feeding patterns between strains and to understand how environmental conditions in the cages may influence fish swimming patterns. Ensuring feed is given at the appropriate depth to avoid stressing fish by unnecessary exposure to high surface temperatures is another one of the goals of gathering information on Arctic char distribution in cages.
To develop a competitive Arctic char culture industry in eastern Canada, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers worked between 2001 and 2006 to develop an Arctic char broodstock with a known pedigree and good growth performance during culture and ability at maturity to produce juveniles adapted to local culture conditions.
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