Land-based farmed GM salmon producer AquaBounty will be transitioning its facilities on Prince Edward Island, Canada, including the Rollo Bay facility, to primarily producing salmon broodstock and egg production for what the company says is a growing US market demand for the conventional product.

The change means the company will only continue to produce its transgenic, genetically modified eggs and fish in Canada's Prince Edward Island for its own use, Sylvia Wulf, AquaBounty's CEO, said.

"There is a growing demand in North America for eggs from conventional salmon netpen producers and new land-based salmon farms using recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)," Wulf said of the expansion into conventional salmon eggs.

She described the move as switching to "another revenue stream presented by the growing demand for salmon eggs."

Last year, AquaBounty agreed to provide closed-containment Maine salmon farmer American Aquafarms with non-GM eggs for its Atlantic salmon site. The American Aquafarms application was ultimately rejected by the state, which said AquaBounty was not considered a "qualified source/hatchery" under state regulations.

US land-based salmon farmers face a major shortage when it comes to procuring enough eggs for their businesses. The USDA in Maine told IntraFish last year it was not yet set up to provide enough egg supply to serve every salmon farmer who needs them.

US remains a focus for GM production

Wulf added that the company would continue to focus on GM salmon production in the United States, where it has an operating land-based facility in Indiana and another facility under construction in Ohio.

"Demand for our GE (genetically engineered) salmon continues to be strong," Wulf said. "We are currently selling all of the salmon we harvest from our Indiana farm."

Last year, the FDA released a draft amended environmental assessment of AquaBounty’s GE salmon, which is trademarked as AquAdvantage salmon and reported to grow to market size at twice the rate of a wild Atlantic salmon. The assessment was made in response to a 2020 federal court order for the FDA to conduct additional analysis of GE salmon’s risks.

AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf told IntraFish the draft FDA assessment demonstrates the safety of its GM salmon.