Ecological aquaculture is a recent activity that has established itself within 10 years in markets. (Photo: Junta Andalucia/FIS)
Andalusia, Portugal take the ecological aquaculture leap
Tuesday, January 05, 2010, 16:50 (GMT + 9)
The Junta de Andalusia and Portugal are carrying out a project of scientific and technical cooperation called “EcoAqua.” Its objective: the incorporation of new species and aquaculture production systems with greater energy savings and reduced environmental impact.
The development of prototypes for the use of thermal and photovoltaic solar energy in aquaculture facilities is being studied, as is the use of methods that improve water treatment. The same are being carried out through the Andalusian Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training Institute (IFAPA), the University of Algarve and the Research Institute of Fisheries and of the Sea of Portugal.
At the same time, technical studies are being conducted to improve the breeding processes of marine species brood of common interest to South Atlantic aquaculture.
The primary objective of the project, currently being carried out in the facilities of the 'Agua del Pino' de Cartaya Centre, in Huelva, is to achieve the good use of natural resources by favouring energy saving and renewable energies.
With a total investment of EUR 1.4 million funded mainly by IFAPA, set to contribute EUR 1.2 million, a pilot plant of thermal solar energy reception will be launched to run all year, cooling or heating up water per temperature requirements. In addition, a photovoltaic solar-energy production plant will be set up with the collaboration of the Andalusian Energy Agency.
Though ecological aquaculture is a novel activity, it is booming. In merely ten years, it has been consolidated in the markets for its adaptation to the demands of the current consumer and its respect for the environment. In addition to the general advantages of aquaculture, the ecological one adds responsible consumption that reduces environmental impact.
Community regulation 710/2009, which governs the activity, will begin to be applied as of July 2010. The norm unifies the criteria for the breeding of fish, crustaceans, molluscs as well as algae in all the countries of the European Union (EU). It further establishes the rules related mainly to water quality, the reduction of environmental impact and animal well-being.
Aquaculture experienced considerable progress in Andalusia with the launch of innovative projects, the development of ecological techniques and the study and research for new species farming.
Although the initiatives are of an experimental nature, some have already been consolidated, like the farming of fish in cages in the open sea to verify the evolution of traditional species like the European seabass and seabream, other new ones like the urta and red porgy, and molluscs like the scallop, oyster and variegated scallop.
In Andalusia, some 19 authorised in-sea facilities exist in the South Mediterranean zone of the provinces of Cadiz, Malaga, Granada and Almeria, where different farming systems are employed. These include floating cages, submerged cages, rafts and long-lines, which provide practically 50 per cent of Andalusian production.
Some of these projects have been led by the wild capture sector itself, since aquaculture is a wager on the fishing industry, to diversify its production and look for complementary activities that allow the profitability of the activity to improve.
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By Silvina Corniola