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International Symposium, Bergen, Norway, 2-4 July 2007


The continuing global decline of wild fish has been accompanied by a parallel increase in aquaculture. Over the past ten years, worldwide production of farmed fish has more than doubled, with farming activities now producing half of the fish directly consumed by humans.

The potential genetic effects of aquaculture on natural fish populations have aroused a great deal of concern among scientists as well as the general public. The perceived risks are often associated with cultured and native fish, and the adverse effects of ecosystem interactions. Public health issues are also a matter of concern.

The project Genimpact, financed by the European Commission, started in November 2005 to review existing knowledge necessary to assess genetic effects of aquaculture on biodiversity, review future research needs, and disseminate this information to a wider public. To achieve this, Genimpact has convened a series of expert workshops on risk assessment and interbreeding and aquaculture ecosystem interactions:

  • Genetics of domestication, breeding and enhancement of performance of fish and shellfish, Viterbo, Italy, 12 -17 June 2006
  • Monitoring tools for evaluation of genetic impact of aquaculture activities on wild populations, Tenerife, Spain, 19-21, October 2006
  • The use of modelling to assess the risk of genetic impacts on wild populations from escapes of cultured fish, Pitlochry, Scotland, UK, 15–17 February 2007

The gaps in our current knowledge, and the suggested research priorities identified during these expert workshops were discussed with stakeholder representatives during a fourth workshop on:

  • Development of management options to reduce genetic impacts of aquaculture activities, Thessaloniki, Greece, 19-22 April 2007.

This was used to develop consensus statements on the “state of the art” as regards genetic impact of farming activities and its implications for aquaculture management, stock conservation and environment safety.

The outcomes of these workshops were presented and made available for public discussion in the International Symposium on “Genetic Impacts from Aquaculture: Meeting the Challenge in Europe”, held on 2-4 July 2007 in Bergen, Norway, a centre for marine science in northern Europe close to areas with large farming activity of Atlantic salmon and advanced research facilities for new aquaculture species such as Atlantic cod.

It was coordinated by Terje Svåsand from the Institute of Marine Research. Key figures from science, industry, NGOs and governmental and intergovernmental organisations attended the symposium. The symposium represented an opportunity to take part in defining the European agenda with regards to management of this threat and setting future research priorities. More than 60 participants from 12 countries attended the symposium.

~ go to the Genimpact compendium