Impact of selective breeding on European aquaculture

K. Janssen*, H. Chavanne, P. Berentsen, H. Komen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives of this study were to determine the combined market share of breeding companies in aquaculture production in Europe, to describe the main characteristics of breeding companies and their programs, and to provide per species estimates on cumulative genetic gain in growth performance. Surveys were conducted among breeding companies of five major species cultured in Europe: Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, European seabass, gilthead seabream, and turbot. The market share was estimated as the combined egg or juvenile production of breeding companies relative to the total egg or juvenile production in Europe for each species in 2012. Cumulative genetic gain was estimated from the number of selected generations in current breeding programs, combined with genetic trends, reported selection responses in literature, and phenotypic differences. The combined market share of breeding companies ranged from 43-56% for seabass to 100% for turbot. The total volume of fish production in Europe that originated from selective breeding was 1653-1706 thousand tonnes, corresponding to 80-83% of the total aquaculture production. Over species, there were 37 breeding programs of which the majority performed family selection. Growth performance was universally selected upon.Cumulative genetic gain in growth performance varied from +. 65% for turbot to +. 900% for trout in terms of harvest weight, and from +. 25% for turbot to +. 200% for trout in terms of thermal growth coefficient. It is concluded that selective breeding has a major impact on European aquaculture and will contribute to future growth of the sector. Statement of relevance: This manuscript helps to understand the impact of selective breeding on European aquaculture. It shows that the adoption of selective breeding is much higher in Europe than globally. It demonstrates that selective breeding has led to major improvements. Forecasts of industry trends are made and the importance of selective breeding to future growth of aquaculture production is illustrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
Issue numbersuppl. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Aquaculture
  • Breeding programs
  • Europe
  • Genetic gain
  • Market share


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of selective breeding on European aquaculture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this