The Minister of Environment Pilar Unzalu at the pilot plant inauguration in Getaria. (Photo: Irekia-Basque Government www.irekia.euskadi.net)
Pilot project to evaluate cod farming in closed circuit
Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 22:40 (GMT + 9)
The company Ondartxo Arraiak has opened an aquaculture facility in Getaria that includes new water recycling technology, where they plan to raise turbot, flounder and cod in closed circuits.
The project is funded by the Department for Environment, Territorial Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Basque Government, through the Structural Funds Programme for Fisheries (EFF), which allocated EUR 1.75 million for a pilot project.
The Minister of Environment, Pilar Unzalu, the Deputy Minister, Jon Azkue, and the president of Ondartxo Arraiak, Akilino Etxarri, participated in the inauguration of the first aquaculture plant that will experiment with the fattening of cod by using recirculating water engineering.
Unzalu said that aquaculture "is one of the biggest bets of the Basque Government" and stressed that the Basque Fisheries Strategic Plan 2009-2013 has already invested close to EUR 3 million.
In principle, the company will conduct a pilot test which will analyze the feasibility of using water recirculation systems for aquaculture production, to assess if they not only respond to the biological needs of the finishing phase, but also if it is profitable.
The Basque Minister stressed that the cod farming project is innovative both in the Spanish aquaculture sector, as it is in Europe. In this regard, she explained that this activity is common in the closed circuit technologies and water recirculation systems are used at all stages of breeding and/or pre-fattening, such as sole and turbot, whilst fattening is usually carried out by conventional systems in open water circulation.
Currently, only Norway, Iceland, Ireland and the UK have offshore production facilities for cod, but most is produced by cultivation cages located in fjords and not in recirculated systems on land.
Due to investment costs, energy prices and a lack of knowledge or technology, few aquaculture production businesses have yet to implement water recycling systems that cover the complete cycle in the production of a marine species.
That is why the Ondartxo technology test to evaluate the profitability of the use of this system in the upper stage of fattening fish, will check the final feasibility of the commercial use of this system in the aquaculture sector of the Basque Country.
The most significant advantages of this new activity is the possibility of bringing the production site to market and maximizing product shelf life. This allows for better quality marine products, control and final consumer prices.
Similarly, aquaculture production technologies help maximize space and are environmentally friendly.
Ondartxo was established in 2004 by the Orru aquaculture enterprise and the technological center for marine research and food AZTI-Tecnalia, with the objective of developing and validating new technological know-how for the implementation of marine production activities in closed circuit.
- Unasur countries prevent entry of ships flying the Falklands flag
By Silvina Corniola