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Farming of Macrosystis algae, used to feed farmed abalones. (Photo: CORFO)

Algae supply for abalone industry assured

Click on the flag for more information about Chile CHILE
Monday, January 18, 2010, 16:30 (GMT + 9)

The firm Cultivos Marinos Santo Tomas successfully concluded an innovative aquaculture project of Macrosystis algae latency. It aimed to look for a way to guarantee a high quality and continuous supply of the resource to the abalone industry of Atacama.

The project, funded by InnovaChile of the Production Development Corporation (CORFO), through the Individual Corporate Innovation line, was headed by Hernan Freres, the company’s top executive.

The firm was able to maintain large volumes of Macrosystis algae, the main food supply of abalones, in the laboratory for a year.

“This has been a great success and without a doubt it will leverage our future development,” said Freres during the closing ceremony of the project “Latency of Macrosystis Algae.”

The initiative consisted of keeping the algae in latency, that is, growing small plants of not more than 2 centimetres, of optimal genetic matter, inside a laboratory, while managing the variables of temperature, light, and control of fungi and protozoa, for their subsequent development at sea.

Abalone being processed. (Photo: Fondef)

In this way, a delay of almost four months is sidestepped, which delays the natural reproduction process, after carrying out orders on part of the abalone industry.

“Before, when a client of ours wanted to plant, we were delayed by four months and a half in having the plants ready, and we did not have the security that the genetic development was going to be optimal. However, now we have the security of having the product, having it in very good condition and delivering it between 20 and 30 days after the order is received,” Freres explained.

Meanwhile, the regional director of CORFO, Juan Carlos Torres, declared: “We are very happy that the objectives of this innovative project have been obtained, and satisfied about having contributed to [the fact that] the company of Mr. Hernan [Freres] is much more competitive and prepared today for future challenges.”

Freres pointed out that they are pioneers in this activity in Chile.

“Obviously in the universities there has been research done on this, but doing it is very different from proposing it in theory. We have taken the plantation of great volumes into practice. With the latency we have managed to come out ahead and we are going to maintain between one and two million plants in stock for delivery to our clients," he indicated.

The executive trusts that the algae latency allows for the repopulation of natural banks, which are often affected by uncontrollable events, like the arrival of the El Niño phenomenon.

“For example, in 1983 it left no algae behind. It took eight years to recover the natural prairies. Now we are going to have stock so that the day after the El Niño current subsides, we can replant algae in the sea,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chile Customs informed that the country exported 37.4 tonnes of frozen red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) worth USD 885.5 million in November 2009, whereas in the same month of 2008 it shipped 19.5 tonnes worth USD 459.1 million overseas.

The country exported 398.5 tonnes of frozen red abalone worth USD 7.65 billion and 10.1 tonnes of frozen Pacific abalone (Haliotis dicus hannai) worth USD 209.9 million between January and November of last year.

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By Analia Murias
[email protected]




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