Prevalence and survival of escaped European seabass Dicentrarchus labrax in Cyprus identified using genetic markers

TitlePrevalence and survival of escaped European seabass Dicentrarchus labrax in Cyprus identified using genetic markers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBrown, C, Miltiadou D, Tsigenopoulos CS
JournalAquaculture Environment Interactions
Volume7
Pages49-59
KeywordsAquaculture impacts, genetic identification, Interbreeding, Introgression, microsatellites, mitochondrial DNA
Abstract

The escape of European seabass Dicentrarchus labrax (L.) from fish farms is considered
to be a widespread problem in the Mediterranean area, where this species is produced in
large quantities in offshore cages. Whilst estimates of the number of escaped seabass in the wild
have been made previously, the actual distribution, long-term survival and the potential effects on
native populations remain largely unknown. This study characterises the genetic profiles of all
contemporary and some historic aquaculture sources of European seabass in Cyprus and uses
these profiles to identify escaped fish in seabass collected from the wild around the island. Significant
differences in the microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA marker profiles were found
between farmed and wild fish. The number of escapees identified was 15% of the total number of
wild-caught fish sampled. However, escapees were not equally distributed; at one location ~70%
of wild-caught fish were escapees while in other areas escapees only accounted for up to 4%.
Escapees were present in all size classes of fish, but the majority were of commercial size (300−500 g)
typical of seabass farmed in seacages. This indicates that they may have escaped recently and
during normal aquaculture operations as no escape event was reported in the course of the study.
Two large, egg-bearing females and some juvenile fish were also classified as escapees, which
suggests that long-term survival and interbreeding with wild fish is possible in Cypriot waters.

DOI10.3354/aei00135

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