The first batch of genetically engineered salmon eggs that arrived here in May/June has made it from the hatchery into nursery tanks the size of backyard swimming pools and then into grow-out tanks that hold up to 70,000 gallons of water apiece.
The formerly threadlike salmon, the size of the end of your thumbnail, had grown to a length of about 8½ inches and a weight of around 60 grams (about two ounces) by early December and is increasing in size daily, according to AquaBounty Farms-Indiana owner AquaBounty Technologies.
“The first cohort of AquAdvantage Salmon that hatched in our Albany farm in June are healthy and growing well,” AquaBounty spokesman Dave Conley told The Star Press via email.
The fish, engineered to grow faster than conventional Atlantic salmon, are attracting attention because they’re the first genetically modified animals approved for human consumption in the U.S.
The fish were mentioned Dec. 20 by U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., when he recapped the farm and agribusiness stops he made in the Hoosier state, including Albany, during 2019.
Young learned about regulatory challenges facing the fish from fellow Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who reportedly has used riders to single-handedly block genetically engineered (GE) salmon for years. Murkowski’s office told The Star Press her efforts are all about ensuring clear labeling of GE salmon before they go to market.
The batch of conventional Atlantic salmon that AquaBounty started farming in June of 2018 is growing well and is expected to be harvested beginning in the third quarter of 2020, followed by the first harvest of the GE AquAdvantage Salmon in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Conley.
A second batch of AquAdvantage Salmon eggs arrived at the land-based farm in Albany in mid-October, has now hatched and is almost ready to be moved to the nursery for their first feeding.