World-leading genetic scientists from Canada’s Center for Aquaculture Technologies (CAT) have partnered with Baja Mexico-based Earth Ocean Farms (EOF) to unlock the genetic mysteries of the valuable Pacific red snapper (Lutjanus peru) with the goal of increasing productivity and promoting faster growth. The development of this customized breeding program is the first of its kind for Pacific red snapper.

The initiative will help EOF select for specific traits in the snapper stock that show higher production yields through improved growth performance and phenotypic traits. Elements of the selection include information on feed conversion and product yield.

CAT’s genotyping team has been developing a customized panel of genetic markers to accelerate genetic improvement in red snapper, analyze performance and ensure the overall health of the population. In that regard, John Buchanan, president and CEO of CAT, noted that “it is exciting to apply our knowledge to new species.”

“By using a customized approach, our team of experts will be able to quickly show significant improvements for EOF. Ensuring healthy genetic diversity among the company’s breeders will provide future options, as flexibility and continuous improvement are the keys to profitability,” the executive added.

A complex and challenging task

Scientists agree that the potential of aquaculture production to supply nutritious seafood protein to a growing world population is greatly enhanced by the rigorous application of genetics and selective breeding programs to choose preferred traits and apply them to aquaculture industry practice.

“Implementing a family-based breeding program is a complex and challenging task, which is why we chose to work with the team of experts at the Aquaculture Technologies Center. They not only understand fish breeding and genetics, but also have practical aquaculture experience. Their customer-oriented approach ensures that we meet our company’s growth objectives for our medium and long-term goals,” said Pablo Konietzko, CEO of Earth Ocean Farms.

“The future of sustainably farmed red snapper is vitally important to alleviate overfishing pressure on wild Pacific and Atlantic red snapper while meeting market demand for this delicious fish.”

The union of two important entities

CAT is an R&D and contract services organization focused on the application of biotechnology tools to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability in aquaculture and related industries. The Center is a joint U.S.-Canadian operation, with facilities located in San Diego, California and in Victoria and Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Aquaculture experience and expertise combined with a strong background in cellular and molecular technologies and in vivo testing gives CAT a great advantage over other entities of its kind.

The think tank offers “delivery of research-based solutions” and are open to collaboration opportunities in a wide range of research, “from discovery to final product development and testing,” CAT explained in a press release.

For its part, Earth Ocean Farms is a company established in the coastal waters of the arid terrain of the Baja California region in Mexico, where it has established itself as an offshore aquaculture producer, creating an “innovative and sustainable” company that develops all aspects of its business.

EOF not only grows native fish in an ecologically sensitive environment, but also integrates the farm, hatchery and processing plant into the economy of this part of the Mexican region. EOF’s products are certified by Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). The Mexican company’s Pacific red snapper and totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi, also known as white sea bass) are now valued as delicious and nutritious high-value products for “discerning chefs and palates”.

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