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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The results of the project will be manifest in several different areas: economic, leisure activities/quality of life and the environment. The primary importance will be in identifying strains or families of carp, resistant to two serious pathogens, that can be used in future breeding programmes. Disease-resistant fish developed by such breeding programmes, using the techniques developed by this project, will make the livelihoods of carp farmers world-wide more secure, by limiting the occurrence and intensity of losses due to disease outbreaks. Inclusion of both disease resistance and other major traits (e.g. harvest size) in selection indices will help to develop fish that are both disease resistant and grow well. Those fish (or the techniques developed by the project) can be distributed world-wide, both to countries in which the diseases are endemic as a means of replacing lost stock, and to those countries in which the pathogens are not present as a means of limiting the spread of the diseases.

Disease resistant fish will have not only have economic benefits for producers of food carp, but economic benefits will also be felt by the leisure fishing industry, which in the UK, for instance, is the most popular participant leisure activity with a value estimated at over €1.4 billion. The industry is a direct and indirect employer, particularly in rural areas where job opportunities are limited. In many countries angling has been affected by these fish diseases both directly by the loss of fish, and indirectly by restrictions imposed to limit the spread of disease.

KHV, in particular, is a serious threat to wild populations of carp. The high mortality rate in affected fish populations could have drastic effects on fish recruitment, and could impact on local ecosystems. The widespread dissemination of resistant carp strains in aquaculture could, by reducing the spread of disease in cultured carp populations, help reduce the spread of the disease in wild fish and maintain the quality of the environment.

The project will also help to develop and strengthen a research base involving different disciplines and several different countries across Europe. It brings together the major European carp gene banks and the other skills necessary for the project (genomics, proteomics, quantitative genetics, bacteriology, virology and aquaculture). Project partners are involved in different networks at the European and international level (e.g. NACEE, INGA): these networks, scientific publications, publicly accessible web-based resources, etc will ensure the effective dissemination of the knowledge and new techniques generated by the project. Development of improved strains at the major gene bank centres will place such strains ideally for dissemination to the carp farming industry in Europe. In addition to the potential benefits to European carp culture, consumers and the environment, the benefits could also be utilised in other major carp growing countries, e.g. Asia, where the project participants are involved in several established breeding programmes and other activities.

For instance, in Indonesia disease has devastated many areas of food carp production, and control measures to limit the spread of the disease have effectively closed carp production in many communities. The Indonesian government is instigating a financial programme to support communities which have limited alternative sources of making a livelihood. Disease-resistant fish would lessen the necessity for such governmental support.

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