Abalone. (Photo Credit: Kowloonese)
Abalone pearl culture intended to generate added value
Monday, June 10, 2013, 02:00 (GMT + 9)
Since January a team of scientists from the Faculty of Marine Resources of the University of Antofagasta (UA) has been working to develop sphere and half sphere abalone pearl farming.
This unprecedented initiative is directed by Ruben Araya of the AU, and takes place in the framework of the project Innova Chile of the Corporation Development Agency (Corfo). Its proponents seek to grant added value to the trade of abalone meat and to create a new medium and small scale business area.
This project received CLP 175 million (USD 346,500) for its development and corresponds to the pre-competitive line of Innova Chile of Corfo, that is to say, it should end up generating a pilot plant.
"Our project seeks to induce the development of pearls in their shells, which are in great demand and really valuable in different markets and industries," explained Anaya.
The researchers plan to induce abalones to produce pearls. To do this, they will introduce nuclei or foreign objects, which, when detected, will make the abalone produce nacre to isolate them.
This innovative project has its origins in an earlier initiative, funded by Conicyt, which made it possible for the AU to work with Mexican specialist Pedro Saucedo for 10 months.
"During that time, we gathered the basic information that allowed us to build this project on abalone pearl formation. Our Mexican colleague will visit us regularly as an international expert," stated Anaya.
"Our goal, besides producing abalone meat and trading its shells, is to generate sphere pearls, which are the most demanded by the jewelers. During the investigation we will inoculate 2,700 specimens in which we will observe the results," the UA researcher added.
He also said they have considered generating an intellectual property right license and a technology package "that can help attract investors to the sector."
In Chile, two species of abalone are farmed: the one from California (Haliotis rufescens) and the Japanese one (Haliotis discus hannai).
Hatcheries can be at sea and on land under controlled environmental conditions.
By Analia Murias