Light holds solution to cod farmers’ problem

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Researchers in Norway say they have found a solution to one of the biggest problems in farming cod – early maturation – by controlling light in the pens.

The team at independent research organisation Møreforsking, working in collaboration with cod farmer Ode (formerly known as Gadus), has found that correct use of lights in farms can effectively delay early maturation beyond the production period.

The LuxCod project focused on measuring continuous light management in fish pens to understand its effects on cod maturation. The study utilised cod sourced from one of Ode’s fish farms. The primary objective was to document how light management influences cod maturation and whether it can successfully avoid early maturation during the farming period.

The results of the study demonstrate that light management significantly delays sexual maturation in farmed cod. This delay enables the avoidance of maturation throughout the entire production period. Early sexual maturation in farmed cod represents a significant economic and production disadvantage, resulting in increased mortality, lower growth rates, and reduced quality. The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research has also highlighted the potential risks of sexually matured farmed fish spawning in pens and impacting wild cod in the surrounding area.

Together with the Institute of Marine Research and BioMarin, Ode has developed a comprehensive light management regime based on academic research and cod farming experiences. This technique ensures, the company said, that fish do not reach sexual maturation in the pens, allowing for optimal production while avoiding genetic influences and ecological concerns.

The researchers closely monitored the production process over time, systematically sampling fish through the cycle with average weights up to 5kg after 21 months production. The study documented the effect of light management through gonad maturity. The findings demonstrate that the correct use of light management enables control of sexual maturation in cod.

Ola Kvalheim, founder, and CEO of Ode, said: “This is an important breakthrough for the entire cod farming community and proves our potential to grow to a large share of the seafood category. It has been important to document these findings through scientific studies. It gives both the authorities, the customers and the entire public domain the facts supporting our sustainable and important food production capabilities.”

Ola Kvalheim, CEO Ode

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