Cobia specimens. (Photo: NOAA FishWatch)
Commercial phase of cobia project starts
Friday, September 06, 2013, 02:10 (GMT + 9)
For a year E-CL, the main electricity generating firm in northern Chile, has been promoting a pilot programme to cultivate the cobia, a resource considered gourmet due to the taste and texture of its meat.
This fish is reproduced in warm waters, grows 10 times faster than salmon and is rich in omega 3 oils. Besides, its price ranges from USD 10 to USD 15 per kilogram, Diario Financiero reported.
The cobia is being cultivated by E-CL and a local entrepreneur in the Thermal Centre of Mejillones. The initiative is part of the Industrial Ecosystem encouraged by the company, in partnership with the veterinary doctor Daniel Nieto.
According to the promoters of the project, the first phase, focused on the study of survival and growth of this marine species introduced in Chile, has proved successful.
This fish is developed in recirculation ponds, where the water employed is seawater that has previously been used for cooling in thermoelectric units.
To date USD 1.5 million has been invested in the infrastructure made up of more than a dozen ponds with 8,000 units of cobia.
The global annual cobia production amounts to 30,000 tonnes, and the main consumer markets are China, Japan, Thailand, United States and Mexico.
Roberto Zazzali, manager of E-CL Strategy, Processes and Sustainability, told Diario Financiero that "the idea is to evaluate the commercial interest in this fish through market research."
Besides, the intention is to "determine its industrial upgrading, see if it is feasible to start selling it in Chile or export it to other countries," the entrepreneur added.
E-CL is to submit to the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) a report containing the findings of the pilot programme, which it hopes can make it possible to "show that this species is edible and grows smoothly on the waters of a power plant."
At this moment about 7,000 fish are being reared but once a commercial evaluation is made, the appropriate production level will be determined. First the sales would be performed in the domestic market and later abroad.
Nieto signed an alliance with E-CL to form the partnership Cobia del Desierto de Atacama, the entity that developed the project under the R&D Law.
After the commercial stage is over, the promoters of the project are to explore the possibility of transferring the technology to other companies.
By Analia Murias