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Speed dating bid to match up fish

A Scots aquaculture company is using speed dating techniques to help it step up the search for the perfect fish here and in South America.

Information on thousands of salmon in its farms in both Chile and Scotland is now being fed into a state-of-the-art database which can make quicker and more exact decisions on pairing fish, customising matches.

In this way the resulting eggs, that are sold on to different companies, are effectively customised to meet their individual needs

The process is accelerating genetic advances by producing more robust offspring that grow faster and are less susceptible to disease.

Dr Alan Tinch, director of genetics at Landcatch, which has its headquarters in Ormsary in Kintyre, said the database effectively acts as a large and complex dating agency.

He said: "We are collecting information about the salmon we have on our farms around the world and using it to match the best female with the best male.

"In this way the next generation of fish is better in a number of respects than before – faster growing, more disease resistant, with improved fat content and better eating quality.

"We cannot move the individual fish, but we can work out which do well in Scotland and Chile and then breed from the best in each country to meet the needs of each customer."

There are presently more than 800,000 salmon recorded in the database with over 100,000 records added every year.

Each has its own identification number which allows experts to trace its family history from parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Every fish can have more than 100 traits recorded, such as its fat content or resistance to certain disease, meaning scientists can look at lots of pieces of information to match individuals.

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