Case Study 7: Full Life-Cycle Hatchery-Based Aquaculture
Principal Investigators: US: Robert Langer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Martin P. Schreibman (Brooklyn College); IS: Yonatan Zohar (then Isr. Ocean Res., now at University of Maryland), Yitzhak Koch (Weizmann Institute of Science)
Goal: To establish tools to control fish reproductive processes and their timing in captivity, and to acquire high-quality gametes (i.e. eggs and sperm) and seeds (i.e. fertilized eggs and larvae) for grow-out to the marketable product.
Activities Investigation of GnRH regulation and receptor affinity and additional neuropeptides involved in sexual maturation, ovulation and spawning.
Optimization of sustained release delivery systems for GnRH analogs.
Development of techniques for early onset of puberty in fish.
Outcomes: The polymer-based GnRH delivery systems have provided the global aquaculture industry with a tool to induce fish to spawn in captivity, enabling the rapid development of fish farming that did not exist before. The technique is used in fish hatcheries around the world to induce spawning and egg/juvenile production in scores of fish species (salmon, sea bass and recently bluefin tuna). Full cycle farming in captivity both provides a protein source for the world population and also enhances conservation of overexploited marine species. The technique is an applied tool for gene rescue and population amplification of threatened and endangered species.
Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $12,000 million, thereof $7,500 million already attained. The Internal Rate of Return is 143%. Benefit Cost Ratio is 5,800, thereof 3,600 already attained.
Capacity Building: 3 postgraduates were involved in the research. 1 currently holds an academic position in Greece.