Releases of farmed fish, whether accidental from commercial aquaculture facilities or intentional as part of stock enhancement/ranching activities, are considered to pose a risk to native gene pools. Stock enhancement studies of Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, based on artificially produced juveniles, were initiated in 1984 in western Norway, and genetic aspects were incorporated. In order to investigate potential interbreeding between released and wild cod, a genetically marked cod strain was developed, being homozygotic for a rare allele (GPI‐1*30) expressed in white muscle tissue. In the period from 1990 to 1994, juveniles from the genetic marked strain were released in large quantities in three locations (Masfjord, Øygarden, Heimarkspollen), giving a significant increase of the marker allele in the local wild cod populations. Recently, studies have been conducted in the same areas to estimate the extent of interbreeding between the wild and released cod. The results, however, revealed no permanent increase of the frequency of the marker allele and/or GPI‐1*30 heterozygotes as would be expected from interbreeding. The recent data are compared with comprehensive genetic data of the cod populations in the areas before the actual releases, covering the full period from 1994 to 2003. The present results are also discussed in relation to fishing pressure on coastal cod, migration information and reproductive success of released, genetically marked cod.
Institute of Marine Research, Department of Aquaculture, Bergen, Norway; 2:
University of Bergen, Department of Fishery and Marine Biology, Bergen, Norway; Corresponding author: POB 1870 Nordnes, 5817 Bergen, Norway