Offshore Mariculture 2017, day three roundup

Processing facility technical visit Processing facility technical visit

Here are the highlights from the day three conference presentations and technical visits, including a session on international case studies of offshore fish farms and a visit to the ABC processing plant and UABC Totoaba research facility.

Open Blue’s Brian O’Hanlon opened day 3 and explained “We see that cages can operate in the open ocean, and expect to see cages fully submerged operating for extensive periods”.

Open Blue has 180 staff in Panama, at the world’s largest open water cobia farm with a 2000 tonne production in 2017. Fish are transferred offshore when they reach 100 grams, to an exposed site 12km offshore, with fully submerged cages. Next year Open Blue will be developing a second site.

During his session on Mussel and Oyster culture, Sergio Guevara, an Oceanologist at UABC, indicated that "Every year is different, there are different combinations of variables each year – such as storms and predation. We're learning all the time. It's a never-ending story and we have to be on top of things all the time. On top of that we have climate change and warmer water to adapt to".

According to Beau Perry of Premium Oceanic, the global market for seaweed is booming and is expected to be worth $20 billion in the next decade. Beau is already experiencing considerable success with his line of seaweed based products which he has been able to supply to US grocery chain, Whole Foods.

“Is abalone farming profitable?” asked Duk-Hyun Yoon, comparing both the costs of land-based and cage farming of abalone, and the market trends in Korea and China. Land-based farming is expensive and difficult to make profitable, but cage farming is risky, exposed to typhoons. Traditionally abalone is seasonal in China, centred around holidays, but demand is increasingly year-round. This demand makes abalone a lucrative commodity, however lengthy growth time and extreme sensitivity to temperature fluctuation are elements which need to be considered when culturing the mollusc.

California has a 300,000 tonne annual demand for seafood, Paula Sylvia of the Unified Port of San Diego says. That represents some huge opportunities for Mexico, and for California providing farming fish in state waters will be permitted which is currently not the case. Paula’s presentation highlighted the great potential for mariculture in Mexico and was a fitting end to the conference.

The close of conference day 3 was followed by the first of the technical visits. Participants visited the UABC (University of Ensenada) Totoaba research laboratories which were hoping to be able to reintroduce the species into the wild after their populations were decimated due to overfishing. UABC, spearheaded by Conal True, are carrying out feed experiments, seeking to find the best combinations to achieve efficient energy conversion.

Participants also had the chance to visit the ABC processing facility where they were able to see first-hand how Striped bass is processed and made ready for sale during this crucial link in the supply chain.

The handbook, videos and presentations will be available for download shortly – please contact the events team on +441329 825335 for more details.  

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