The EPIC4 genomic project and the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative, two major projects that have received support from PSF throughout the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, have generated interesting results that can potentially inform improved hatchery operations.
The work done under SSMSP as part of the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative has provided the tools to assess the health and condition of fish, including their 1) infectious health – including infectious agents carried, presence of a viral disease state, activation of different branches of immunity related to infection, 2) state of smolt readiness, and 3) presence of stress -- which can be further partitioned into thermal, osmotic and hypoxia-driven stress versus general stress. Furthermore, biomarkers predictive of imminent mortality (fish that will likely die within 48 hours) and state of inflammation, also often predictive of poor survival, have been developed. Together, these biomarker tools and assays have been developed for application on non-destructive gill tissue in a tool called the salmon Fit-Chip. Application of the infectious agent monitoring tool (which when run alone can assess presence and abundance of up to 47 agents at once) and Fit-Chip tools by hatcheries could help to:
Meanwhile the EPIC4 program has effected parental based tagging (PBT) of hatchery Coho stocks in Southern BC to allow for genotyping of the majority of hatchery Coho smolts released into the Salish Sea. This work enables subsequent identification of clipped juveniles and adults by stock and year of origin, release strategy, and parentage history, as well as detailed investigations of differences in early marine distribution patterns of different hatchery Coho stocks. Furthermore, genetic based sampling of returning adults will allow for identification of genetic, physiological and environmental factors that affect family-specific survival rates of hatchery Coho salmon, which may support provide a means to allow reduced hatchery Coho production while sustaining or improving adult production.
Parental-based tagging is non-lethal and separates salmon into families to better study their genetics and to identify the year in which they were produced (i.e. age). PBT allows for studies of:
These tools can support a meaningful evaluation of hatchery programs with an objective to increase salmon production.
The goal of this component of our Hatchery Effectiveness Program was to complete a comprehensive review of the current scientific methods that could be applied to improve effectiveness of hatchery production. This includes an assessment of:
Goals and products for this project include the following: