The need to understand the behaviour of fish reared for mariculture or restocking

Anne Gro Vea Salvanes, Victoria Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Following severe stock collapses in many natural populations, efforts are now being invested in farming marine species, and in rehabilitating populations through controlled releases. While the development of cod farming is still relatively new, it may be wise to consider some of the problems other fish farming industries have encountered. For example, farmed fish generally have a different genotype from that of local wild populations, and these artificially selected fish are typically bigger and more aggressive than wild fish. These differences can be problematic if farmed fish escape and begin breeding with local wild populations. An alternative approach to farming is to rehabilitate local wild populations through restocking. To date, however, this approach has had mixed success. Fish behaviour develops during early life stages through a combination of innate characteristics and experience. Apparently, the capacity for behavioural flexibility later in life is affected by the early experiences of juvenile fish. Here, we review the literature concerning the role of population origin and juvenile experience on fish behaviour. We highlight our recent studies on Atlantic cod, which demonstrate that variability in the nursery habitat generates behaviourally flexible fish. We discuss these issues in the context of gadoid mariculture and restocking. We conclude that behavioural studies are an important part of applied research for developing an industry of fish farming in gadoids, as well as for research concerning restocking and conservation of marine resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-354
Number of pages9
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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