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Development and current status of abalone aquaculture in chile


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Development and current status of abalone aquaculture in chile

  1. 1. DEVELOPMENT AND CURRENT STATUS OF ABALONE AQUACULTURE IN CHILEROBERTO A. FLORES-AGUILAR,1* ALFONSO GUTIE´ RREZ,1ANDRE´ S ELLWANGER1AND RICARDO SEARCY-BERNAL21Centro de Investigacio´n y Desarrollo de Recursos y Ambientes Costeros i-mar, Universidad de los Lagos,Puerto Montt, Chile; 2Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanolo´gicas, Universidad Auto´noma de BajaCalifornia, Ensenada, Baja California, Me´xicoABSTRACT Abalone aquaculture is rapidly developing in Chile although this mollusc does not occur naturally in this country.The red abalone Haliotis rufescens was introduced in 1977 and the ezo abalone Haliotis discus hannai in 1982. After several yearsof research and development, the industry began in 1992 and Chile is currently the fifth producer of cultured abalone in the worldwith 304 tons in 2006. Twenty five companies are involved in this Chilean industry, culturing mainly red abalone. Most of thefarms in the North include hatcheries and land-based grow-out operations, whereas most of the in-water grow-out facilities arelocated in the South. All farms in Chile use algae as the main food for growing abalone, but artificial feeds are also used in someland-based operations in the North. The average size of abalone harvested in Chile is 8 cm (100–120 g) after 3–5 y in culturesystems. Whole frozen abalone (shell on) is the most important form of this Chilean product (82% in 2006) and the main market isJapan (90.2%). Abalone production has increased at a rate of around 50% per annum over the last 3 y. This development isexpected to continue in the next years, fostered by favorable geographic, economic, and environmental conditions as well as animportant government support to invest in abalone. A survey among producers revealed that feed availability and quality iscurrently considered a key issue to further develop this industry in Chile.KEY WORDS: abalone, Chile, Haliotis rufescens, Haliotis discusINTRODUCTIONAbalone aquaculture over the last decade has increased itsshare of the world abalone market with the decline of abalonefisheries. Abalone culture technology is now well established inseveral countries, and the industry can be considered to beentering a maturation phase. The most important producingcountries include China: 5,000 tons p.a., Taiwan: 3,000 tonsp.a., South Africa: 700 tons per annum (p.a.), Australia:450 tons p.a., Chile: 254 tons p.a., USA: 240 tons p.a. andMe´ xico: 40 tons p.a. (Different sources from the VI Interna-tional Abalone Symposium, Chile 2006).Chile is among the top ten aquaculture producers in theworld with a production volume of 694,000 tons per year and avalue of 2.8 billion dollars per year (FAO 2006). Aquaculture isan important income source for the country’s State percentageof gross domestic product. Abalone were introduced as anoption to diversify the aquaculture activity in the country. Chilehas a long coast of around 5,000 km with seawater temperaturesuitable for abalone culture and many protected coastal areas,particularly in the South. This, together with a competitivelabor cost and a good supply of kelp as food for abalone, hashelped to develop a promising abalone aquaculture industry inthe country (Godoy & Jerez 1998, Flores-Aguilar 2003).The abalone aquaculture industry initiated in the 1960s, by asmall group of individuals mainly in United States and Japan,who were able to successfully spawn abalone and rear thelarvae, juveniles, and young adults by the early 1970s. (Ino &Harada 1961, Owen et al. 1971, McBride 1998). The Chileanabalone industry began a decade later. Red abalone Haliotisrufescens was introduced in 1977 with a few adults for exper-imentation in closed systems by Fundacion Chile and Univer-sidad Catolica del Norte (Viviani 1981, Godoy et al. 1992).Commercialization of the industry began in 1992, when anenvironmental impact assessment study done by FundacionChile was approved, and red abalone culture in the sea offChiloe´ Island in the X region was authorized. (Fig. 1) The firstcompany permitted to commercially culture abalone wasCampos Marinos S.A., a subsidiary company of FundacionChile (Ziomi 2001). The Japanese or ezo abalone Haliotis discushannai was introduced by Universidad Cato´ lica del Norte in1982 (Rivera 2001). This University with the aid of Japaneseexperts adapted the technology for the ezo abalone and after1996 was able to transfer abalone to several companies in thenorth of Chile (Rivera 2001).Abalone culture in Chile is ruled by a resolution of September30, 2002, which allows the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) andthe green abalone (Haliotis discus hannai), to be cultured inclosed circuit land-based operations, and specifically the redabalone is allowed to be cultured in suspended systems in the sea,between latitudes 41°21#55$S and 46°0#00$S (between Seno delReloncavi and Skyring Peninsula). Since 2004, the culture ofgreen and red abalone is permitted in-water but only in the IIIand IV regions, and the stock has to be a single-sex individualsand sited over a soft substrate area, (Subpesca 2006). Only onecompany complies with this regulation and is now growing onlyfemale abalone in the sea in the III region.With the growth in investment in abalone culture in Chile,producers have begun to organize around common issues. Twoabalone workshops were held in Puerto Montt (Ifop 2001,Flores-Aguilar 2003) in which the producers discussed theindustry constraints in Chile. Most of farmers were from theSouth and in-water growers. Constraints were ranked and atthat time and the top priority was to standardize abalone seedquality, followed by the development of manufactured diets,optimizing kelp culture to feed abalone, improving grow-outsystem technology in the sea, and to standardize the quality ofproduct to access the market. On the second occasion the rank*Corresponding author. E-mail: rflores@ulagos.clJournal of Shellfish Research, Vol. 26, No. 3, 705–711, 2007.705JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 1 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:16 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4
  2. 2. was similar, but the establishment of health programs was nowseen as one of the priorities.This article examines the current status of abalone aquacul-ture industry in Chile. It includes the current production andtechnology used in the North and South of the country, physicalsites, feeds, production, current market and educational needsof the industry, as well as constraints identified by producersand experts.METHODSA survey of the abalone culture and research laboratories inChile was conducted by telephone, using a similar methodologyto McBride (1998). One individual at each facility was inter-viewed and asked a series of questions in five categories, namely:physica site, feeds, production, constraints, and research needs.Questions about the site included location, type of facility inoperation, size, years in operation, abalone production, numberof employees, and major expense items. Feed data collected werethe amount of kelp used per week and information on the use ofprepared diets. Production considerations consisted of speciescultured, water quality characteristics, market location, size ofthe growout system, production of market-sized abalone, andnumber of seed produced. ProducersÕ views on constraints andresearch needs in the survey were solicited during the interview.Seed abalone were defined as animals of 17–28-mm shelllength; market-sized abalone as 80–95 mm in shell length and90–180 g in whole live weight. A hatchery was deemed to consistof a broodstock area, a spawning area and larval rearingsystem, and a nursery facility for rearing abalone from thepostlarval to juvenile seed size animal size (17–28 mm).A total of 24 interviews were conducted: 20 with commercialfarmers, 2 consultants, and 2 with abalone experts fromresearch and development institutions.RESULTSThe survey revealed that 25 companies are involved inabalone culture in Chile (Tables 1 and 2). All were in adevelopment phase, both in respect of infrastructure andbuilding up their abalone stock. The number of commercialabalone farms was verified by comparison with the list ofregistered marine farmers (Sernapesca 2006), which revealedthat three farms had not yet completed the permitting process.The interviews confirmed that two species of abalone arecommercially cultured in Chile, visibly; the ‘‘Japanese’’ aba-lone, Haliotis discus hannai, also commonly known as ‘‘ezo’’ or‘‘green’’ abalone, which is cultured exclusively in the North ofthe country; and the red abalone, Haliotis rufescens, which iscultured in the North and South. The survey revealed a shiftfrom Japanese of ezo abalone to red abalone. Most of the olderfarms, which had been in existence for longer than five years,had started with Japanese or ezo abalone but at the time of thesurvey, there were only 3 farms of the 13 land-based farms stillculturing the ezo abalone.Most of the abalone farms in the North were land-basedgrow-out operations, with only one farm possessing both land-based and in-water growout facilities (Table 1, Fig. 1). Animportant characteristic of the farms in the North is that almostall of them were fully integrated, possessing a hatchery, nurseryand grow-out operations. One farm was just a seed productionfacility. Twelve of the 13 farms in the South were in-water grow-out operations, with only one performing land-based grow-out(Table 1, Fig. 1). There are 13 land-based production facilitiesand of this number only one is in the South, the rest are in theNorth. Only four of the farms in the South possessed a hatcheryand nursery. Of these, the hatchery/nursery of two of the largerfirms from the South was located in the North, the other twofirms, one big and the other small, had hatcheries in the Souththat were still at a research and development scale.Most of the land-based growout firms are new, with 6 of the13 land-based farms have been in operation for less than threeyears. This meant that they had not yet completed a fullproduction cycle with their own juveniles. Most of them hadpurchased seed from another grower to speed up the productionand start selling product in a shorter lead time.Producers reported that the abalone remain in the nurseryfor between 3 and 10 mo and are then introduced to productionsystems at different sizes, dependent primarily on the type ofculture system used. Land base systems place abalone of 10–15mm shell length into the production system, and the abaloneremain there for 24–48 mo. In-water culturists initially stockyoung abalone of 17–24 mm in their systems. The abaloneFigure 1. Location of abalone facilities in Chile, with notes about itsabalone inventory, political regions of the country are included asgeographical reference.FLORES-AGUILAR ET AL.706JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 2 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:17 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4
  3. 3. remains in the growout systems 3–5 y from larvae to marketsize, the range reflecting the variability in growth rates. Thetotal seed production in Chile during 2006 was 10.6 millionabalone with an average size of 20 mm shell length.Seed production technology on most of the farms was basedon the Japanese plastic plate system for larval settlement. Platesare normally preconditioned with naturally occurring diatoms,however cultured microalgae was starting to be used on threefarms to improve survivorship and productivity of postlarvaeand early juvenile per plate. The United States and Mexico roundtank system was used in 3 of the 12 seed production facilities.In water growers normally use a barrel culture system, andonly the larger production companies with inventories over 2million abalone used cage based growout systems. These wereeither plastic moulded cages or iron galvanized structurescovered with netting.Physical SitesThe location of commercial abalone farms in Chile areillustrated in Figure 1. Chile is divided into 12 regions and ametropolitan region where the capital Santiago is located.Abalone farming occurs in the III, IV, V (the ‘‘North’’), andthe X (‘‘South’’) regions.Abalone farms in the North are characterized by land-basedoperations employing a substantial infrastructure with manyfiberglass raceways tanks and integration of all phases ofproduction; two even possess state of the art liquid nitrogenfast freezing processing plants situated either on-farm or nearby.A total of 364 hectares of ocean floor and coastal landis currently used for abalone aquaculture in the country(Sernapesca 2006). Most of the farms are located in rural areas,two are in urban areas.Chilean abalone farms used 224 people in full-time positionsin 2006. An additional 62 participated in part-time workespecially in the South where most growers share their person-nel with other culture operations with mussels or oysters. Laborwas identified by 16 of the 23 Chilean growers interviewed astheir largest expense.In addition to labor, the major production expenses werefeed, power, marketing, regulatory compliance and fees. Feedwas considered the second biggest expense by 18 growers, andpower was identified as the third greatest expense by nine landbased growers.A special production consideration was abalone seed acqui-sition. All growers in the North produced their own seed,whereas in the South all farms purchased seed from companiesin the North, at a price that fluctuated between US$0.27 to$0.44, depending on size, number of seed purchased, advancepayment, and company policy.Water quality was generally not regarded as a problem byabalone growers. In the North red tides were reported to occuroccasionally, with Gonyaulax spp the main algal speciesinvolved, but all companies had developed good managementsystems and has installed filtration systems that controlled theproblem. One farm in the third region experienced abnormallylow oxygen seawater conditions, as low as 2.3 mg per liter, oncertain days in summer. They solved the problem by installingan automatic oxygen production system on the farm. One farmoriginally in the South reported an occasional problem with redtides, but now moved to the North. Most of the land-basedabalone aquaculture farms in Chile monitored water quality astemperature and oxygen once a day, and salinity, phytoplank-ton, and bacteria at least once per month. In compliance withthe regulations of the federal agencies (Decreto Supremo No 90/1996. Ministry of Economy), levels of suspended solids, oxygen,ammonia, and temperature among others have to be continu-ously monitored. This exact monitoring requirements and theirfrequency however varies according to size, location of thefarm, and type of feed used.Farms routinely record ambient seawater temperatures,which range from 12°C to 21°C in the III region, 10°C to19°C in the V and IV region, and 7°C to 16°C in the Southern Xregion. From December to March more extreme temperaturesmay be recorded, often above 20°C, especially in the thirdregion. El Nin˜ o is a concern among producers particularly in theNorth, especially because red abalone is being cultured, but noimportant events have been recorded in the years of production.TABLE 1.Registered abalone aquaculturist in north of Chile.Company Size Operation Operations Haliotis SpeciesNorth land-basedVynicon Medium Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis discus hannaiC.M. San Cristo´ bal Large Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensMarine Farms Medium Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensSemillas de Agua Medium Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensComercial Panamericana Medium Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensCultivos Abalone Large (hatchery) Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensSouth Pacific Abalone X-Large Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensChilesan Start-up Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensAbalones Chile Start-up Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensPesquera Alcar Start-up Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensSpinetech Start-up Seed production land-based Growout Haliotis rufescensNorth land-based and in-water growoutPesquera Camanchaca X-Large Seed production (North) In-water (specialcontainers) and land-based GrowoutHaliotis rufescensABALONE AQUACULTURE IN CHILE 707JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 3 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:23 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4
  4. 4. Abalone farms are obliged by law to perform healthinspections on their abalone twice a year, which is reported tothe government agencyFeedAll farms in Chile use algae as the main food for growing outabalone. In the North, three brown algal species, from the orderLaminariales are collected or harvested for abalone aquacul-ture. The species are Lessonia trabeculata, Lessonia nigrescens,and Macrocystis integrifolia, with L. trabeculata being the mostabundant.In the North there is a regulation that includes a closedperiod for 18 mo starting from September 29, 2005. In terms ofthis regulation, only certain companies may harvest kelp andthey have to comply with scientific management regulations tomaintain the sustainability of the resource. Most of this kelp isharvested at low tide and is cut with a knife by fishermenworking for these companies.In the South, the kelp Macrocystis pyrı´fera is the most widelyused algal species to feed abalone. The Macrocystis is harvestedfrom small boats and cut with a knife. The seaweed is collectedmanually by staff on the small farms, whereas the biggercompanies pay local fishermen to supply the algae. Macrocystisis abundant in summer, but almost disappears in winter forcingfarmers to purchase cultured red algae Gracilaria chilensis.Whereas there is an ready supply of Gracilaria in the South,its price is double that of Macrocystis and growers claim thatMacrocystis produces much better abalone growth rates. Nokelp harvest permits are required in the Southern regions.Artificial feeds are used in land-based operations in theNorth, both in nursery and in the grow-out operation. At fourland-based farms, abalone of all sizes receive a combination ofartificial and kelp diet.No manufactured diets are used on the in-water farmsbecause of environmental regulations restricting the siting ofaquaculture operations using formulated feeds. As a result of thelarge-scale salmon culture in the region, aquaculture operationsusing pelleted feeds are deemed ‘‘intensive’’ farms and seaconcessions will only be granted if they are a minimum of 2.8km from neighboring concessions. This makes it very difficult tofind suitable areas for abalone culture, which comply with thisregulation. As a result all farms in the South use seaweeds as feed.ProductionIn 2006, 304 tons of abalone were produced (ChileanCustoms 2007), with a value of US$6.840 million. The averagesize of abalone product from Chile is 100–120 g, which equatesto approximately an 8-cm sized abalone. Cultured abaloneproduction has increased at a rate around 50% per annum overthe last 3 y (Fig. 2). This rate of increase is expected to continuefor the next five years at least, because many of the existingfarms are building up their inventories. In 2005, 254 tons whereproduced in the country, 180 tons in the North and 74 tons inthe South (Chilean Customs, 2006).The abalone main markets are Japan (90.2% of Chileanexports), USA (6.3%), Taiwan (2.4%), with other Asiancountries accounting for the rest of the Chilean exports.By far, whole frozen abalone (shell on), was the mostimportant form of Chilean product accounting for 82% of theproduct in 2006; live abalone is second at 16% of production,and canning third at 2% (Chilean Customs 2006).TABLE 2.Registered abalone aquaculturists in the South of Chile.Company Size Operation Operations Haliotis SpeciesSouth Land-basedPacifico Austral Large Seed production r-r&d (South) land-based GrowoutSouth In-waterDon Jorge X-Large Seed production (North) In-water Growout(iron coated cages)Haliotis rufescensSergio Cabrera Small In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensLennix Medium In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensCultivo Cerna Mar Small Hatchery (South) Growout Haliotis rufescensNestor Vera Small In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensCultivos Hagua Medium In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensAquamontt Large Seed production (North) In-water Growout (cages) Haliotis rufescensSemillas Marinas X-Large In-water Growout (plastic cages) Haliotis rufescensC. M. Leoman Small In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensVincent Arbucci Medium In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensCultivos Vilupulli Medium In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensMarymar Small In-water Growout, barrels Haliotis rufescensFigure 2. Chilean FOB abalone exports in metric tons.FLORES-AGUILAR ET AL.708JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 4 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:24 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4
  5. 5. The export price of abalone from Chile was determined bydividing the total tonnage of fresh and frozen abalone exported,free on Board (FOB) Santiago by the total value (Fig. 3). Thisvalue doesn’t include expenses such as transportation to the FarEast, insurance or packing material. The highest price was in2005 and 2006 with US$29.2 for average fresh product (live),and 2005 was also the highest for frozen product US$24.3. Theminimum price was in 2002 for both fresh and frozen product.The proportion of abalone exported from the Chileanregions is shown in Figure 4. The highest production from theIII region accounting for 50% of the national production.Regions IV, V, and 10 each contribute between 9% and 20%.ConstraintsTo better understand the nature of the constraints expressedby producers, it was necessary to separate land-based from in-water farms, and from the growers in the North from thegrowers in the South.From the land-based farmers, 9 of 13 considered abalonefeed to be the biggest constraint for the industry. Six producerswere searching for a better supply of algae as the solution to feedsupply, whereas three companies were of the opinion that abetter manufactured diet was the way forward for the abaloneculture industry.The second ranked constraint for land-based farmers wasless clear; five firms considered that the market has to beaddressed in an associated way, to establish a minimum pricefor Chilean abalone, among other measures.Four other farms regarded land-use conflicts as a constraintto the development of the industry, and were of the view thatcertain local government authorities gave preference to tourismindustry development in their region over aquaculture. Sevencompanies also expressed their concern about over-regulationof the abalone farming activity. This is also a problem for otheraquaculture sectors (i.e., mussel farmers).For the in-water farmers in the South, most of whompurchased abalone seed from the North, seed quality wasconsidered to be the most important constraint by most (9out of 12) respondents. This was followed closely by algal feedsupply. All producers regarded seaweed supply to be a veryimportant issue, but for five small growers it was not as high apriority as seed quality, because they were currently able to findenough kelp to sustain their operations.Another important constraint was that 6 out of 12 in-waterfarmers were of the view that they had had regulations imposedon them that had been designed for other cultured species,which does not necessarily reflect the needs of the abalone-farming sector.Five of 12 in-water growers considered the 400-m bufferdistance, required by law between extensive aquaculture leases(those not using manufactured diets) to a major constraint tothe development of the industry, because it is very hard to findareas to comply with this requirement.Among small mussel, oyster, and algae farmers planning toenter the abalone business, the main barrier was the long time tothe first harvest, and the relatively large capital requirementuntil the first sale. Other reasons for not investing in abaloneculture was poor knowledge of the abalone farming business ingeneral, the common belief that abalone technology is stillunder development, and the uncertainty of natural food supply.Research and EducationMost farmers in the North and South agreed that researchon feeds was the most important research required (14 out of 20respondents). Farmers from the North land-based operationswould like to see more research in the development of aformulated diet. Quality and price were the main elements tobe considered in choosing a suitable feed. Farmers in the Norththat were interested in algae diets were of the opinion that algalproduction technology was ready to be scaled up to supplyenough algae to abalone farms.In the South, 7 out of 12 producers expressed the need formore research on kelp culture. Only three producers regardedthe development of recirculation systems as important, butseven land-based farmers confirmed that they were performingsome research into seawater recirculation systems on their ownfarms. The farmers of North and South viewed research ondiseases as the second most important research issue to beaddressed. There were other subjects such as processing tech-nology, genetics, and single sex production that were mentionedas important areas to research.DISCUSSIONDespite initiating abalone farming a decade later than manyof the Chile’s competitors, the country has successfully importedFigure 3. Value of fresh and frozen abalone exports (US$/Kg FOB).Figure 4. Regional abalone production (percentage of total production)until November of 2006.ABALONE AQUACULTURE IN CHILE 709JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 5 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:26 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4
  6. 6. and adapted the abalone production technology. Institutionssuch as Fundacion Chile and Universidad Catolica del Norteand the abalone farming companies have been the responsibilityof establishing abalone farming technology in the country.The 2006 survey revealed that Chile is the fifth biggestproducer after China, Taiwan, South Africa, and Australia.As mentioned previously, favorable geographic, economic, andenvironmental conditions make it a perfect location for aprosperous abalone industry.Chile has a significant potential to increase its abaloneproduction because of the numerous areas with low popula-tion density that are ideal to produce abalone. In the South itis possible to start an in-water farm without the high infra-structure costs associated with land-based operations. Otherpositive factors include government support to invest inabalone, with relatively low conflicting activities for coastalor ocean use.Godoy and Jerez (1998) mention that initially the principalinterest to invest in abalone culture came from salmon farmers.Interestingly, the survey revealed that in 2006 only three of theexisting firms had salmon farming as their origin. Eight of the 25producers had a mussel farming background and the restinvested in abalone without any former ties to aquaculture oreven fisheries.Abalone farming is still a young industry, with 70% of thefarms in operation for less than 5 y, so production of redabalone is expected to increase rapidly, along further develop-ment of the technology.Even though the Japanese abalone Haliotis discuss hannaiwas introduced a long time ago in the country, it is interesting tosee that it has not adapted well to the production conditions.Possible explanations are that natural Chilean algae is not anappropriate as food for this species, it possesses a poor naturalresistance to diseases, in particular parasites such as shell boringpolychaetes, is susceptible to stress and responds poorly tohandling. It should be noted that Chilean algal feed is com-pletely different to the countries were H. discus hannai occursnaturally such as Japan, China, Korea.Red Abalone in Chile’s culture is allowed in suspended in-water systems in the fjords and channels of the south aroundPuerto Montt and Chiloe´ Island as a result of the environmentalimpact study performed for this species. Japanese howeverabalone are not attractive to the Southern Chilean growersbecause of colder temperatures experienced in this region andthe poor growout history of this species in the North.Planned production from individual farms ranges fromabout 5–300 tons/y. One farm reported that it is planning a1,000 tons/y production, and this could be expected becausesalmon farming revenues per company exceed US$ 100 million/y and 1,000 tons/y representing around US$ 26 million dollars.A few years ago 100 tons/y was the common target, but nowcompanies aim for much higher production.Some growers are planning to produce a little as 5 tons/y butthis is a secondary business for them, because the major incomeis from mussel or other farmed products.Abalone remain in the grow-out systems for three to fiveyears from larvae to market size, the range reflecting thevariability of growth. The growth rates of abalone in centraland Southern Chile is very similar to those reported in the UnitedStates and Mexico, however in the North the average growthrate of 2.5 mm per month for red abalone is higher than in theseother countries. A higher average of the year round temperaturein the North seems to explain this higher growth rate.Companies in Chile are very interested in producing in thenear future a bigger individual sized abalone for the interna-tional Asian market, with a unit weight of 180 g or more.The total seed production in Chile was 10.6 million units ofan average size of 20 mm during 2006. Growers in the Southargue that quality of the seed is an important problem they arefacing because there is no way of knowing if they are receivingthe fast growers or the slower growing tails from the stock.Small farmers in the South using in-water systems consider seedquality as the main constraint, but price of seed is alsoimportant. Big abalone companies in the North don’t see theSouthern in-water farms as competition and will eventually bekeen to buy product from them.Chile’s environmental standards and regulations are at aninternational level, but many regulations may not be well suitedto abalone. For example, little is known of the mechanism oftoxicity by red tide algae on abalone and yet all harvestedabalone must be analyzed for toxin content. This represents alarge, and possibly unnecessary, expense for farmers. Similarly,farmers in the North reported difficulty in complying with theregulation requiring single sex abalone in the in-water culturesystems, because it is difficult to separate juvenile male andfemale abalone by eye. They are required to send a sample forhistology to guarantee a maximum of 95% same sex to complywith the regulation. This costs a lot of money, requires abalonethey can ill-afford to sacrifice, and the current technique ofsexing them by eye doesn’t give them any assurance that theywill meet the requirement.There is an active health program administered by theauthorities under which farms must be monitored every sixmonths, based on a high risk disease classification list foraquatic species (Subsecretarı´a de Pesca Resolucio´ n No 1.496,of May 31, 2004). The monitoring includes prevention mea-sures, as well as disease control and eradication measures. TheChilean abalone sanitary situation is deemed to be healthy,some parasites are present and closely monitored, but none ofthese have yet had a serious impact on the farms.All of the farms are located in rural areas, close to smalltowns. This is very different from California (McBride 1998)where many farms that are situated in urban locations.The survey revealed that most of the product (78%)originated from the North, and 22% from the South. Part ofthe reason for this is that many farms in the South are owned bymussel growers, which include abalone as a secondary businessat their culture site. Interestingly they consider abalone farmingas a back up plan to supplement their incomes when musselprice is low.By far, whole frozen abalone (shell on), was the mostimportant form of presentation of Chilean product. The highcost of transporting live abalone by air shipments to the FarEast increased production costs, and farmers find it moreconvenient to ship their product frozen by sea.The export price of abalone from Chile is slightly lowercompared with other competitive countries, which could beexplained by some Chilean producers not having good net-works in the international markets. Also being new companiesthey are accepting lower prices to access the market.Since the abalone growers workshop discussions of 2001 and2003, feed supply remains the major concern for the farmers.FLORES-AGUILAR ET AL.710JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 6 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:30 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4
  7. 7. There are many manufactured feeds that have been imported ordeveloped in the country at an experimental level, but they arestill not widely used especially in the growout system where thesignificant amounts are needed. The growth rates obtained onthese feeds and their prices do seem to have satisfied the farmersÕrequirements for commercial adoption of these products. Thusmost farms have set up their culture systems based on algalfeeds. There is a concern about the medium to long term supplyof kelp. There were only two farmers that were not concerned,because they were the only farms on a long coast where therewere no competitors for the kelp resource. Other shore-basedgrowers considered that the solution was the development of adomestic manufactured feed supply. They consider that qualityand a reasonable price, around $2–3 per kilogram, are two keyaspects to consider.In conclusion, the abalone industry is expected to grow in-water and in land-based farms, both in the North and the Southas the basic commercial technology is now well established andChile possesses favorable environmental, economic, and insti-tutional conditions. The survey revealed that feed availabilityand quality is currently the key to the development of asubstantial abalone culture industry in Chile.ACKNOWLEDGMENTThe authors thank abalone growers for their cooperation,Subpesca, and the contributions from Rafael Crisostomo,Eduardo Vergara, Augusto Labbe, Pedro Martinez, Juan PabloCamilo, and Alex Poblete. Part of this study was funded by agrant from Proyecto FONDEF, Conycit DO3I1152.LITERATURE CITEDChilean Customs. 2006. Informacio´ n estadı´ stica de exportacio´ Customs. 2007. Informacio´ n estadı´ stica de exportacio´ fisheries Technical Series. SOFIA- State of World Aquaculture:2006. 2003. Gestio´ n para el desarrollo tecno´ lgico de cultivo deabalo´ n en Chile. i-mar Research Centre. Puerto Montt, 15 deNoviembre del 2002. Chile. 28 pp.Godoy, C., G. Jerez & F. Ponce. 1992. The introduction of abalone intoChile. In: S. A. Shepard, M. Tegner, & S. Gu´ zman del Pro´ o, editors.Abalone of the world. Biology, fishery and culture. BlackwellScientific Publications Inc.: Oxford, UK. 608 pp.Godoy, C. & G. Jerez. 1998. The introduction of abalone in Chile: Tenyears later. J. Shellfish Res. 17:603–605.Ifop 2001. Seminario Taller Ana´ lisis y Proyecciones del Cultivode Abalo´ n en Chile. Diciembre 2001. Puerto Montt, Chile.82 pp.Ino, T. & K. Harada. 1961. On the spawning of abalone in the vicinityof Ibaragi prefecture. Bull. Tokai Reg. Fish Res. Lab. 31:275–281.McBride, S. C. 1998. Current status of abalone aquaculture in theCalifornias. J. Shellfish Res. 17:593–600.Owen, B., J. H. McLean & R. J. Meyer. 1971. Hybridization in easternPacific abalones (Haliotis). Bull. L.A. Co. Mus. Nat. Hist. Sci. 9:1–37.Rivera, M. 2001. El Cultivo de Abalo´ n Japone´ s en Chile. SeminarioTaller Ana´ lisis y Proyecciones del Cultivo de Abalo´ n en Chile.Diciembre 2001. Puerto Montt, Chile. 82 pp.Subpesca. 2006. Subsecretarı´a de Pesca. Resolucio´ n final No. 4282. 14de diciembre del 2005, Valparaı´so, Chile.Sernapesca. 2006. Estadı´stica acuicultura. www.sernapesca.clViviani, C. 1981. Introduccio´ n y cultivo experimentales del abalo´ n rojode California (Haliotis rufescens) en Chile. Informe final ProyectoOEA-CIS, U. del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile.Ziomi, A. 2001. El Cultivo de Abalo´ n Rojo en Chile. Seminario TallerAna´ lisis y Proyecciones del Cultivo de Abalo´ n en Chile. Diciembre2001. Puerto Montt, Chile. 82 pp.ABALONE AQUACULTURE IN CHILE 711JOBNAME: jsr 26#3 2007 PAGE: 7 OUTPUT: Tuesday August 14 13:55:31 2007tsp/jsr/145934/26-3-4