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Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development


Generating solutions




Competition III

Genome Centre(s)



Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched


Project Description

Traditional fisheries provide an important basis of cultural and economic activity in Atlantic Canada, although the fisheries for some species such as Atlantic salmon and Atlantic cod have severely declined. The decline in Atlantic salmon stocks served as an incentive to develop today’s aquaculture sector, which generates more than $200 million of annual revenue in New Brunswick alone. One approach towards maintaining growth and stability of the aquaculture industry is diversification into rearing other species such as Atlantic cod. Current estimates show that cod farming in Newfoundland alone could generate more than $100 million in new wealth while meeting consumer demand for a high quality food resource. Cod breeding programs are being developed in countries such as Norway and Iceland.

The Canadian aquaculture industry recognizes that broodstock selection is essential in order to produce superior cod stocks for farming. This program will be a partnership with industry,universities, government and Not-for-Profit organizations and will apply genomics technologies combined with family-based selective breeding methodologies to identify cod with traits of commercial importance, such as improved growth, delayed age of sexual maturation and resistanc to disease and stress. The project will sequence genes in order to identify molecular markers that are associated with superior performance under farming conditions.

Integrated GE3LS Research: Intellectual property, environmental, and public consultation issues relevant to the breeding of elite cod broodstock
GE3LS Project Leaders: Keith Culver, University of New Brunswick

Development of elite cod broodstock will provide social and economic benefits for Canadians to the extent that intellectual property (IP) interests in this broodstock are eligible for legal protection, and use of this broodstock complies with Canadian environmental law and Canada’s international obligations. Use of elite cod broodstock in particular coastal communities raises further issues regarding the obligation to consult affected public groups.

Research on GE³LS issues relevant to cod aquaculture will be conducted by working closely with the project’s scientists and industry partners to provide law and policy options. The GE³LS team will develop and disseminate solution-oriented legal and policy options regarding (1) legal ownership of commercially valuable research results, (2) the status of elite cod broodstock under Canadian environmental law and Canada’s international obligations, and (3) ethical and legal options regarding benefit sharing and improved methods of consultation with affected publics. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Aquaculture Management Directorate, has also committed to providing a policy analyst as an observer through all phases of the GE³LS research.