Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
Research project


Researchers at SVT contributed to the ELSA part of the project 'Salmonsterile', which aimed to use information from the salmon genome in order to develop vaccines that can make farmed salmon sterile.

Foto: Anna Wargelius, Havforskningsinstituttet

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ELSA stands for Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of new Technology.

About the project

This information is copied from a previous infopage on the Institute of Marine Research's website (no longer active).

Aquaculture have become an important industry in Norway, and in 2010 more than 1 million tons of farmed salmon and trout were produced. However, Norway has, through international agreements, a special obligation to preserve wild Atlantic salmon populations. There is consensus among researchers that excessive crossing with escaped farmed salmon could be detrimental to the wild salmon populations. Although the number of salmon escaping from Norwegian farms have declined significantly in recent years, the number of fish per production unit have increased as the net pens used today are bigger. Potentially, a large number of fish may  escape from even a single incident. If the goal is to ensure that fish farming do result in permanent change in the genetic characteristics of wild salmon, salmon farming should be based on the production of sterile fish.

The possibility of producing sterile triploid salmon has been explored in recent projects. This technology is already in use in rainbow trout farming in Europe, as well as in salmon farming in Tasmania. However, triploid salmon is more susceptible to the development of bone deformities, and more sensitive to adverse environmental factors like low oxygen levels at high sea water temperatures. In addition, triploid males develop secondary sex characteristics and migration behavior, and may disrupt spawning of the wild salmon if present in a river, even if they can not produce viable offspring. It is necessary to develop alternative and improved technology for producing sterile salmon. The International Cooperation to Sequence the Atlantic Salmon Genome (ICSASG) will provide more information about genes regulating sex differentiation and gonadal development in the embryo, as well as controlling sexual maturation in larger fish. This opens for novel approaches to the development of alternative and more specific methods for producing sterile fish. Accordingly, an application was sent to and granted by the Research Council of Norway’s Biotechnology program, BIOTEK2021. In this project we will use information from the salmon genome in order to develop vaccines that can make farmed salmon sterile, and thereby unable to interact genetically with wild salmon populations. The project is called:"SALMOSTERILE: Sterile salmon by targeting factors involved in germ cell survival: novel vaccination strategies for sustainable fish farming."

SVT's contributions (ELSA)

Researchers from Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) contribute to the ELSA part of the project (WP5)


See the transcript from Dorothy Dankel's presentation "A critical look at science-industry partnerships in Norwegian salmon farming: What's in in for Society?" here.

Activities 2016

  • January 2016: The ELSA team held a workshop “Techno-moral imaginaries of the Salmosterile project” at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Bergen
  • May 2016: Dorothy Dankel was invited by Prof. Jennifer Bailey to speak on biotechnology and aquaculture at Oceans Week at NTNU in Trondheim. A critical look at science-industry partnerships in Norwegian salmon farming: What's in it for society?
  • 18.-19. May 2016: Dorothy Dankel co-organized a workshop on “Multi-Use of Marine Spaces” at the European Maritime Day in Turku, Finland.
  • Mai 2016: Dorothy Dankel traveled to South Korea on a Meltzer (UiB fund) travel grant for the World Fisheries Congress and presented her research “Doing CRISPR: the novel case of Atlantic salmon, science and industry” in Theme Session “Aquaculture in the Future and Beyond.
  • June 2016: Dorothy Dankel was invited to give the opening Keynote Address at the University of Nantes OCEANEXT conference June 8-10, 2016. Transdisciplinary Insights into Integrated Ecosystem Assessments. Tweets can be found at #oceanext.
  • 19. August 2016: Jeroen van der Sluijs gave a 45 minutes invited lecture "Risks and ethics of the novel genome editing technology CRISPR" at the international Koppelting 2016 conference at the Cooperative University of Amersfoort (a grass-roots citizen science initiative).
  • 24. August 2016: Jeroen van der Sluijs gave a 1.5 hour invited lecture "Responsible Evidence Appraisal" at the 2016 Bergen Exchanges on Law and Social Transformation, using CRISPR as an illustrative case.
  • October 2016: Dorothy Dankel working on writing proposals REFERTILE and SEAGENE incorporating a transdisciplinary approach and Responsible Research and Innovation activities.
  • 12.-14. October 2016: S.NET International Conference, Bergen, Norway
    • CRISPR salmon Topical Session and discussion called “Doing CRISPR”: Genetically modified Norwegian farmed salmon: in the lab or on the plate?
    • Dorothy Dankel from the University of Bergen and Lene Kleppe from the Institute of Marine Research and the Salmosterile project first presented ethnographical and embedded insights from within the CRISPR lab. Then Dorothy led a debate and which led into a conversation with the audience on the future of GM salmon: “in the lab or on the plate?” Mathias Kaiser, Director of the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanties (UiB), Fer Wickson, GenØk (Tromsø) and Silvio Funtowicz (UiB) were among those who actively participated in the discussion.
    • Presentation by Jeroen van der Sluijs on "The challenges of risk migration in sustainable innovation", addressing the questions (1) To what extend does the development and introduction of sustainable consumer products introduce novel unforeseen risks?; (2) Under what conditions does that occur? and (3) What are promising strategies for detection and avoidance of such risks early in the innovation trajectory?
  • 26. October 2016: Dorothy Dankel participated in the ForskerForbundet’s Pecha Kucha night on climate change and marine resource management
  • 22.-23. November 2016: Course in Transdisciplinary Research Co-Design, Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm (hosted by Future Earth, and travel grant from Future Earth Norway).

On-going activities:

Dorothy Dankel will deliver her manuscript “Doing CRISPR” to the consortium in early December 2016 for internal review. After this internal review, she will submit to a journal for a peer-review.

Dorothy Dankel also remains dedicated to discussing the Salmosterile project and the potential of spin-offs with Anna Wargelius. One result of this ELSA work package has been the design and formulation of Responsible Research and Innovation activities.