Brown algae or kelp. (Photo: B. Navez)
Small scale brown algae farming encouraged
Tuesday, May 07, 2013, 04:10 (GMT + 9)
"Towards a World Aquaculture" (HUAM) programme of the Fund for the Promotion of Scientific and Technological Development (Fondef) allocated the Catholic University of the North (UCN) a project intended to develop small-scale aquaculture using areas for benthic resource management (AMERB) of the Coquimbo region by means of the brown algae or kelp hanging rope cultivation.
This project will make it possible to increase the profitability of these areas and improve organized artisanal fishermen’s life quality.
In addition, it is intended to significantly impact on the sustainability of the abalone industry through the scheduled fresh food supply.
The project is led by Julio Vasquez Castro, a professor of the Department of Marine Biology, Faculty of Marine Sciences, and reflects the important challenges of national aquaculture.
The researcher explained that the activity analysis "reveals that the Chilean aquaculture model is dominated by the maximization of the economic returns from investments, mostly from foreign capital, favouring highly productive farming systems, but with limited environmental sustainability."
On the other hand, "Chile has a long coastal area with diverse and productive ecosystems, and a wide variety of native species with aquaculture potential to offer a unique opportunity to diversify aquaculture," he added.
Currently, 780 management areas along the coast of mainland Chile have 120,000 hectares under management with co-management plans for the exploitation of benthic invertebrates and commercially important kelp, according to the UCN.
In the framework of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, the use of 20 per cent of the total area of the management area for the cultivation of endemic species is allowed, explained Vasquez Castro.
The UCN will also implement hanging rope giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) cultivation, using standard production techniques of sporophytes and hanging culture, and an innovative methodology for capturing spores and sporophytes from the natural environment.
This project is expected to make it possible for artisanal fishermen to manage the full cycle of the resource cultivation, which will significantly reduce production costs.
The giant kelp productivity will increase profitability and reduce the bottleneck restricting the abalone industry growth, generating a scheduled and sustainable food supply.
Small scale giant kelp aquaculture project at management areas in Coquimbo Region: productive chain with abalone industry and the processing sector will last 30 months, from June 2013.
By Analia Murias