CHILE: Cultivation plan for Patagonian toothfish in Magallanes
Posted: September 29th, 2010 - 7:18am
The University of Magallanes have developed an innovative project to start farming Patagonian toothfish or Chilean sea bass (Dissostichus eleginoides) in the region.
With a budget of CLP 548 million (USD 1.1 million) the promoters of the initiative expect that within 10 years, private entrepreneurs will begin cultivating the species, said the aquaculture engineer Pablo Gallardo.
Currently, the main markets for Patagonian toothfish are the U.S. and Asia.
This fish is high in healthy omega fatty acids-3 and 6, and is being trading abroad at around USD 15 per kg, compared to the USD 4 being paid for salmon.
But Patagonian toothfish has been subjected to heavy exploitation. Experts say the rapid depletion of the species is due in part to low fertility and slow growth as a male takes between 7 and 11 years to reach sexual maturity, and females take between 9 to 12 years.
The project of the University of Magallanes is one of the winners of the 'Diversification of aquaculture in Chile', of the Fondef program from the National Commision for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT), which is being run in conjunction with the Innova Chile of the Corporation for the Promotion of Production (CORFO).
Gallardo says the juvenilles are expected to be caught and sent to the Bahía Laredo Cultivation centre, of the Faculty of Sciences at the university.
It is expected that there, the fish will adapt to conditions of captivity to breed and give birth to larvae which will develop into juveniles.
Later, the promoters of the initiative intend to pursue further studies in captivity and the first tests of fattening in ponds on land and/or floating cages in the sea, reports La Prensa Austral.
If the project is successful, within a decade, Magallanes could have a thriving Patagonian toothfish aquaculture industry.
"Like any activity, it will cause an environmental impact. The point is to deal with it according to the parameters of normal cultivation. In the case of salmon farming, is beyond the permissible limits, as, for example, crop density. We believe that in this case it may have a minor environmental impact if everything is handled within those parameters," said Gallardo.
According to the Latest Report on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector by the Subsecretariat of Fisheries (Subpesca), Patagonian toothfish landings totaled 1,830 tonnes from January to July 2010, 4.6 per cent less than in the first seven months of 2009 (1,920 tonnes).