COMPLETED The Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development Project

The announcement of the cod moratorium in 1992, due to dramatically reduced wild cod stocks, created the largest layoff in Canadian history. Roughly 30,000 fisheries workers in Newfoundland and Labrador lost their jobs, and a way of life was changed forever.

In response to that, researchers from the Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development Project (CGP) worked closely with aquaculture companies to find cod genes related to key traits such as increased growth rates, disease resistance and stress tolerance with the aim of reducing production costs and improving overall competitiveness.

This project injected $18.4M into the Atlantic region’s economy, with roughly half from Genome Canada and matching funds  from other sources within the region. The project created over 30 full-time equivalent positions, and provided opportunities for training and skill development for many individuals from the region.

The project was an example of genetic selection. The team measured and evaluated valuable traits such as growth, health, sexual maturation, temperature, stress tolerance, fillet quality and yield. The project also explored the feasibility of incorporating specific traits in future breeding programs to ensure fast growing, healthy, high quality cod.

By the time of the completion of the project, the team had published over 90% of what is known about the cod genome. However, in that time, wild stocks in parts of Europe had significantly returned, substantially reducing the appetite to pursue cod aquaculture in the region.