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sector_ico_Fisheries_trans Fisheries/Aquaculture

Enhancing Production in Coho: Culture, Community, Catch (EPIC4)

  • Project Leaders: Ben Koop, Louis Bernatchez, Willie Davidson
  • Institutions: Simon Fraser University (SFU)
  • Budget: $9,867,636
  • Competition: 2014 LSARP Competition Genomics and Feeding the Future
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome BC, Genome Quebec
  • Fiscal Year: 2015
  • Status: Active

Coho salmon, previously one of the most highly valued species in BC, began to suffer serious declines in 1989 due to a productivity drop and high harvest rates to the point where the commercial fishery for Coho salmon was essentially closed in 1997. This happened because of concerns about stocks and ‘marked or hatchery-only’ recreational fisheries were instituted as a wild Coho salmon conservation measure in southern BC. From 1998 to 2007, survival rates for hatchery raised Coho salmon in the ocean were at low levels, at less than a 5% return rate for tagged smolts: processes associated with the poor early marine survival remained unidentified. However, marine climatic changes were implicated, and hatchery fish were found to be less able than wild fish to survive. This project is aiming to use recently available genomics tools to address challenges in improved management and the re-evaluation of hatchery / wild interactions of Coho salmon. This project builds on investments made by Genome BC and Genome Canada on previous salmon genomics projects and will see the expertise developed in BC translated into practical applications. The interdisciplinary team of natural and social scientists will sequence the Coho salmon genome, document the genetic diversity of thousands of individuals and determine how Coho salmon from different geographic regions vary genetically. They will apply newly found knowledge to help sustain the wild Coho salmon fisheries, improve hatchery production of the species, and help develop BC’s Coho salmon land-based aquaculture industry to make it more productive. The outcomes of the project should also be transferable to other species of Pacific salmon and salmonids from other regions of Canada.