Hatchery Fishing Changing Fish at a Genetic Level?

hatchery fishResearchers at Oregon State University recently made a troubling discovery about the role fish hatcheries play in the ecosystem.

While fish hatcheries are able to save some species of fish and bolster their populations in areas where they would otherwise disappear without intervention, the offspring of hatchery fish appear to have vastly different DNA than those fish found in wild streams.

Oregon State researchers first noticed the difference in steelhead trout, according to a recent Newsweek article. The scientists saw more than 700 genes with different activity when comparing fishery and native fish, marking a startling difference between the fish at a genetic level.

Michael Blouin, a biology professor at the university, explained the differences to The Columbus Dispatch: “A fish hatchery is a very artificial environment that causes strong natural selection pressures. A concrete box with 50,000 other fish all crowded together and fed pellet food is clearly a lot different than an open stream.”

While the exact genetic traits that are being altered is not clear, the characteristics can already be pinpointed. Those include healing, immunity and metabolism and other abilities that would be helpful in a crowded environment in what one author called the early stages of domestication. The next advance would be to develop hatcheries that better replicate conditions in the wild.

In Ohio – and many other locations – the state relies on hatcheries to populate a number of species for its streams and impoundments such as rainbow trout, striped bass, channel catfish and bluegills. These fish are then caught for sport, living in areas where their normal presence had all but disappeared.

While the discovered genetic changes are not expected to infiltrate the wild population to any detriment, they do show the changes that captivity and lifestyle can have on a species.

At Cape Porpoise Lobster Co., we have been catching seafood since the early 1970s and shipping it around the country. As we depend on marine life for our livelihood, we are always interested in the environmental changes that may alter how fish, crabs and lobsters are caught and, of course, how they taste. Order some of the freshest lobster and seafood from us today, with free overnight shipping included on every purchase! Check out all of our delicious options online now, or call us today at 800-967-4268 to learn more.