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Seasonal variation in flesh quality, comparison between large and small Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) transferred into seawater as 0+ or 1+ smolts

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Aquaculture ; Volume 250. p. 830–840. 2005

Roth, Bjørn; Johansen, Sten Johan Sverre; Suontama, Jorma; Kiessling, Anders; Leknes, Odd; Guldberg, Bjørn; Handeland, Sigurd O

The aim of this study was to identify the effect of growth, size and season on the flesh quality of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Following smoltification, two groups of size sorted 0+ and 1+ smolts (four treatment groups in all) were measured for body weight and length in January, June and October 2002. The fish were stored on ice for 4 days before filleted and samples taken for flesh colour, fat/dry content, end pH, gaping score and texture shear force. Large fish upon smoltification grew faster during the first year at sea, while smaller fish grew faster during the second year at sea, resulting in similar weight at slaughter. Season showed the main influence on quality, where fish slaughtered in October had harder texture, higher fat content and redder colour compared to previous samples (P < 0.05). There were only minor differences between the fish slaughtered in January and June (P > 0.15). No significant differences (P > 0.05) were detected as an effect of size or smoltification age when effects of season were accounted for in the statistical model. We conclude that the observed variation in quality was an effect of changes in growth with season. We recommend that actions aimed to halter growth prior to slaughter could be an effective control measure to reduce seasonal quality variations.