Climate change is having a global impact on aquaculture production.  Changing environmental conditions, such as temperature changes, and fish diseases are posing challenges to the aquaculture sector. Selective breeding can affect how well the sector adapts and new opportunities can be exploited.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the Norwegian Institute for Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima) and the Wageningen University in the Netherlands have long been co-operating in the selective breeding of farmed fish. The partners’ views on the possibilities of using selective breeding to better adapt aquaculture species to the changing climate conditions were presented by Dr. Panya Sae-Lim from Nofima in February at the “Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition” symposium organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The three key strategies for selective breeding in the future are:

  • Using selective breeding to produce genetically improved fish that adapt better to changing environmental conditions, such as rising water temperatures. Better adaptation skills will also mean improved fish health. Selective breeding can help improve resistance to diseases.
  • It can also be used to reduce environmental loading and increase productivity of the aquaculture sector. Selecting fish with better feed use efficiency reduces the amount of feed needed.
  • Knowhow on selective breeding methods should be more widely disseminated to ensure sustainable food production and food security for the growing human population. Aquaculture should be more based on selected fish populations with a controlled rate of inbreeding.

Luke is exporting selective breeding know-how

Worldwide, aquaculture is a growing sector of food production; it surpassed the global production of beef in 2012. .

– Greater knowledge of the opportunities presented by selective breeding is presently most needed in Asia, Africa and India, says Principal Research Scientist Antti Kause of Luke.

– Luke is currently exporting knowhow to Vietnam, and co-operation will also soon be launched with Armenia. Co-development work is also conducted in Europe with, for example Greece, Spain and France.

Luke is researching the ways aquaculture and fisheries can adapt under climate change in the SmartSea project funded by the Academy of Finland.

The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition’ symposium, 15–17 February 2016, Rome, Italy

Luke contact person for more information:
Principal Research Scientist Antti Kause,, tel. +358 29 532 6222