Researchers at the UK’s University of East Anglia have shown that farmed salmon’s weaker DNA poses a threat to the survival of wild salmon.
Researchers found that farmed salmon that have escaped into the wild have been less successful at surviving and navigating than their wild counterparts. The study also showed that farmed salmon have sperm that is just as potent as wild salmon, but they are less likely to reproduce.
“Farmed salmon grow very fast, are aggressive, and not as clever as wild salmon when it comes to dealing with predators,” the study’s lead researcher, Professor Matt Gage, told the BBC. “Anglers and conservationists are worried they could disrupt locally-adapted traits like timing of return, adult body size and disease resistance.”
According to Gage, 95 percent of all salmon in existence are farmed salmon. Wild salmon have a set of remarkable navigational and survival skills that are coded into their DNA. Domesticated salmon are much less adept at surviving in the wild.
The study also suggests that farmed salmon should be sterilized to prevent them from mixing with wild populations. That idea is not popular with many salmon farmers. They say sterilization is uneconomical, and claim that domestic salmon don’t often escape from farms. Though, a number of previous studies have found high numbers of farmed salmon in the wild.
Chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, Scott Landsburgh, told the BBC that the farmed salmon industry is already doing what it can to prevent domestic salmon from escaping into the wild.
“The industry makes huge efforts to improve containment standards,” he said in the piece.
Do you believe farmed salmon are a threat to wild salmon? What should be done to prevent them from escaping into the wild?