Genetic aquaculture resources
A shrimp fry collector in Bangladesh. It is important that aquaculture finds alternatives to capturing seed from the wild
Genetic resources are the foundation on which species, stocks and genetically-improved strains are based. At the species level, more aquatic animals are being farmed now than ever before. Although the common carp, Cyprinus carpio and goldfish, Carassius auratus, were domesticated several thousand years ago into a variety of shapes and colours, most of the farmed fish today are very similar to their wild relatives. Improvements in our knowledge of artificial reproduction, reproductive biology, early larval rearing (training series) and basic genetics have recently allowed fish breeders to improve genetically species such as rainbow trout, coho and Atlantic salmon, channel catfish, Nile tilapia, as well as common carp.
The culture of several important species still relies on the collection of brood stock or seed from natural populations. Perhaps the most important group of species whose culture is dependent on natural populations is the marine shrimp Penaeus spp. Shrimp farming in South and Central America stock production ponds with wild-caught larvae. Hatcheries that produce shrimp larvae exist in Asia and the Americas, but the broodstock are generally collected from the wild. Culturists recognize the problems associated with this harvest of wild resources and are taking steps to domesticate marine shrimp. Other culture systems dependent on wild resources include milkfish in the Philippines, yellow tail in Japan, and eel in Asia and Europe.
However, simply having a domesticated species or genetically improved species is not sufficient to guarantee optimum production from an aquaculture facility. In addition to proper husbandry, i.e. water quality, nutrition, health etc., broodstock must be managed to ensure conservation of genetic resources, to maintain the desirable characters of the farmed species and to avoid problems of inbreeding.