Agreement heralds a new chapter in char farming

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
19 October 2022, at 7:44am

A new family-based breeding programme that aims to improve the performance of farmed Arctic char has been launched in Canada this week.

an Arctic char
Icy Waters has been farming char since 1985

© Icy Waters Ltd

The programme has been agreed between the genetics research company the Center for Aquaculture Technologies (CAT) and char farmer Icy Waters Ltd (IWL).

Based in Canada’s Yukon Territory, Icy Waters was established in 1985 and quickly became a world leader in Arctic char aquaculture. Its facilities include an integrated hatchery with a quarantined broodstock production unit and egg incubation room. Ongrowing takes place in a fully separate tank farm next to the federally inspected processing facility.

“Developing sustainable food and protein sources continues to be a key economic factor for many countries around the world. Aquaculture is poised to be an increasingly important contributor to this landscape. With the rise of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), the benefits in growing char relative to other salmonids continues to gain interest, given their natural preference for higher densities,” said Doug Hotson, general manager of Icy Waters, in a press relese.

Icy Waters carries out a breeding approach managing two founder populations of broodstock. With the implementation of a modern selective breeding programme and development of custom genomic tools tailored to Arctic char, CAT will lead the company in selecting for the best traits from both stocks.

“CAT are delighted to be partnering with Icy Waters to optimise and accelerate their genetic improvement program. With the growing appetite for Artic char, it is an exciting and opportune time for the CAT breeding team to partner with Icy Waters to accelerate the rate of genetic gains for key traits in Artic char to improve efficiency, production, and quality. We look forward to working alongside Icy Waters to bring premium Artic char to the global market,” said Klara Verbyla, vice-president of genetics at CAT.

“Icy Waters Ltd has been supplying Yukon Gold ova to the global marketplace over the past 30 years and we have chosen the Center for Aquaculture Technologies as a partner to help us implement a family-based breeding programme. The world of fish breeding and genetics is a complex and challenging task, and that is why we chose to work with the expert team at CAT. Working with their diversified team of genetics and breeding professionals will enable IWL to continue to be a leading supplier of ova to satisfy growing global demand for our delicious fish,” concluded Hotson.