Norway receives award for fish breeding in developing countries – Fishupdate.com

Norway receives award for fish breeding in developing countries Published:  11 November, 2005

THE WorldFish Center in Malaysia has received an American award for the way the organisation has used technology to generate economic growth in developing countries. The Norwegian research institution AKVAFORSK was responsible for the technology, which employs knowledge of selective breeding to genetically improve fish.

The goal of the project “Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia” (GIFT) was to increase the growth of the tropical fish species tilapia through selective breeding methods. After several generations of selection, growth increased dramatically, resulting in higher food production. Poor farmers are now benefiting from more profitable production and better living conditions. The Tech Museum of Innovation in California has given the project the “Accenture Economic Development Award”. Financed primarily by the United Nations Development Programme, GIFT was a collaborative effort between the WorldFish Center (WFC), AKVAFORSK and Philippine institutions. WFC led the project.

Bjørn Skjævestad, managing director of AKVAFORSK, thanked everyone involved in the collaboration on GIFT. “Our collaboration with WFC and the Philippine participants has been extremely productive, and we are proud of having been part of a project of such great importance to the international community,” he said.

AKVAFORSK had scientific responsibility for the establishment and implementation of GIFT. Several countries in Southeast Asia and Central America have used fish from the GIFT strain in their selective breeding programmes. The transfer of breeding technology to other countries and fish species represents an enormous step forward for tropical aquaculture.

The project group did not base the GIFT strain only on tilapia from the Philippines. Since these fish had been inbred for generations, they needed an infusion of genes with wide variation in order to make genetic improvement. For this reason, the project group compiled genetic material from four wild river strains in Africa and crossed them with the Philippine strain. The fish that showed the best characteristics formed the basis for the GIFT strain, which has now been selected over many generations.

AKVAFORSK is a leading institution for research and knowledge transfer in the field of aquaculture. Its activities in Norway and abroad involve all stages of the value chain, with core areas of operation in selective breeding, genetics, nutrition, feed, production management and product quality.

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