AquaBounty prepares for its first GMO harvest

US salmon producer AquaBounty Technologies says it has purchase orders for all of its initial harvest of genetically-modified (GMO) fish.

The company plans to harvest around five tonnes of GMO salmon at the end of May from its land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm in Indiana. The salmon have been modified to reach harvest weight faster and more efficiently than conventional Atlantic salmon reared in cages at sea.

The company’s “AquAdvantage” fish are Atlantic salmon that have had elements of Chinook salmon and another fish, ocean pout, added. The genetic breakthrough goes back 30 years, and it has taken two decades of regulatory review, culminating in FDA approval in 2015 and Health Canada approval in 2016, before the first commercial harvest.

AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf said: “I’m proud to see AquaBounty reach this important milestone using science and technology to provide sustainable seafood for a growing population. Our land-based aquaculture technology allows us to bring to market a healthy protein source. By raising our fish in freshwater from hatch to harvest, we offer an Atlantic salmon with a fresh, mild taste that consumers will enjoy.”

The company says that its RAS-raised salmon are protected from toxins, diseases and parasites that salmon reared at sea may be exposed to.

Wulf added: “The AquaBounty strategy for facility design and operation is driven by important considerations for the health of salmon. Our goal is to provide a delicious salmon that is produced in a secure and sustainable manner and raised right here in the United States.”