By Nicolás Hurtado
According to the latest edition of the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, global fisheries and aquaculture production rose to a total of 158 million MT in 2012, roughly 10 million more than in 2010. Per capita fish consumption increased to over 19 kg in 2012, compared to approximately 10 kg in the 1960’s. The rapid expansion of aquaculture, particularly at the level of small producers, is the primary force behind these increases.
Aquaculture in the Amazon Basin has grown extraordinarily in recent years, fundamentally due to advances in the production of larvae and fingerlings of native species such as gamitana (Colossoma: pacu, cachama, tambaqui), paco (Piaractus: pirapitinga, cachama blanca) and paiche (Arapaima: pirarucu). These species actually have superior growth rates when compared to others in the region, representing a valuable alternative for rural and small scale aquaculture. Another factor involves high market acceptance, both for home consumption and in local and regional markets.
Options for aquaculture in South America
The giant Malaysian prawn is one of the most widely cultured aquatic species on a global basis, with good market acceptance due to flavor and other attributes. South American countries such as Peru and Ecuador have regions with climates that are optimum for its culture, and prawn culture could become a highly profitable activity and a real alternative for development in these regions.
From a commercial viewpoint, it will be important to assure the success of these activities in order to strengthen supply and market chains, as well as promoting producer associations with the goals of guaranteeing steady supplies and permitting access to credit, new technology and new markets.
Based on its climatic conditions and history of commercial aquaculture, Ecuador presents great opportunities for the culture of Amazonian fishes and giant prawns as candidates for industry diversification. These would benefit coastal communities, artisanal fishermen, and others including communities in forest lands, contributing to the improvement of nutrition among populations with scarce economic resources. These activities would create employment opportunities and permit the participation of women and youth, and would generate new food industries with links to other activities such as traditional agriculture, hydroponics and tourism. They would also allow communities to better utilize their lands while increasing competitiveness.
Nicolás Hurtado Totocayo has a degree in Aquaculture Engineering and a Master in Business Management from Federico Villarreal National University (Peru). He is a founding member of the Peruvian Association of Aquaculture Professionals (ASSPPPAC), and is its current President. He also works as an Aquaculture Consultant.