By Yojaira Paternina Cordoba*
Honduras Declares it is Free of Early Mortality Syndrome
In early August, the Minister of the Secretariat for Agriculture and Livestock, Jacobo Paz, has clarified that the country is currently free from Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), which can affect farmed shrimp. Speaking to El Tiempo, a national newspaper, the official noted the significance of shrimp exports and production, which according to government estimates were worth over USD$250 million in 2014.
In spite of falling prices, government estimates for the current year indicate total production will reach between 29,000 and 31,000 metric tons. Secretary Paz stated that no scientific evidence exists to indicate that Honduran farmed shrimp are being affected by EMS, and that this contradicts accusations from producers in Mexico that the disease was causing losses in his country.
Recirculating Pilot Project Starts Up in Northern Chile
Northern Chile is about to have its first low-cost recirculating system for marine fishes. The installation will form a part of the project “Development of a pilot plant for grow- out of the yellowtail amberjack, Seriola lalandi.”
The concept is to construct and operate a low-cost, land-based and easily replicable prototype system for adoption by artisanal fishermen or entrepreneurs on a diverse range of scales. During the project so far, data has been obtained regarding optimum densities in each phase of production, improved transfer and handling practices, and a number of other factors of interest.
In this way, officials from the Center for Applied Ocean Research (Centro de Investigacion Aplicada del Mar, or CIAM) emphasized, a new economic activity can begin in the region, which will be encouraged by the climatic and geographic conditions found in the Arica and Parinacota districts.
It should be noted that this initiative is part of an ongoing collaboration between Corfo Corpesca SA (a regional fish processing corporation), CIAM and the University of Tarapaca. The goal of this joint effort is to insure that innovative and diversified fish production activities will play a fundamental role in the challenge to move toward sustainable fisheries, which in turn will be a driving force for economic development in the region.
CONAPESCA (Mexico) Identifies Great Opportunities for Exports
To promote the advancement and consolidation of fisheries and aquaculture activities, it will be necessary to support the development of businesses focused on the commercial production of high-value species for international markets, stated Mario Aguilar Sanchez, head of the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA). He emphasized that thanks to Mexico’s natural resources of 11500 km (7,150 miles) of coasts and 6,500 square km (2500 square miles) of interior water bodies, as well as 67 fishing ports divided between both coasts where some 2300 large vessels and docks are found, and some 52,000 inland fishing vessels, fishery activities generate significant volumes of high-quality food products.
Referring to the nation’s aquaculture infrastructure, Aguilar Sanchez pointed out that over 9,200 aquaculture farms are operating in Mexico, including 1447 for shrimp, 4623 for tilapia, 117 for oysters, 146 for carp, 1834 for trout, 353 for catfish, and 710 for other aquatic species.
“There are more than 300,000 persons directly participating in these activities in Mexico, of which 21% work in acuaculture and 79% in capture fisheries,” he told representatives from food industries in 16 countries from America, Asia and Europe, who were gathered for the ProMexico Global “Conference for Agro-Food Businesses.”
Aguilar Sanchez indicated that in the prior year Mexico exported fisheries and aquaculture products valued at USD$1,129,000,000 and that this represented only 0.8 percent of global exports. Shrimp was the principal export product, with a primary market in the U.S., with an estimated 21,419 metric tons valued at USD$319.4 million.
He remarked that among the various strategies for supporting the fishery and aquaculture sectors, CONAPESCA has several that apply directly to exports such as financing for modernization of processing plants and fishing vessels, strengthening cold storage chains, promoting mariculture, support for the shrimp farming sector, boosting value-added activities and incentives for energy efficiency. He added that in terms of financing, various debt instruments are available for cold storage and cold chain enterprises to commercialize products for export.
Finally, as Aguilar Sanchez pointed out, a total of 20 million hectares (approximately 50 million acres) of territory have been identified as having a high suitability for aquaculture production of various species, including tilapia, shrimp, catfish, marine fishes, mussels, oysters and carp, among others. He observed that, as is the case in most countries around the world, fisheries harvests have hit a plateau and future growth in supplies will come from aquaculture, which is growing rapidly.
Investigators at INAPESCA Work on Development of Biotechnology for Utilization of Macro Algae
Researchers at the National Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA) are working on the development of biotechnology for the use of macro algae that occur along the coast of Baja California. These algae can be processed and used as food for species such as sea urchins, abalone, several varieties of fish and for cultivated shrimp, among others, in fish farms in the region said Enrique Hernandez Garibay, leader of a project involving the Autonomous University of Baja California and the company Algas y Extractos del Pacifico Norte.
Some species of macro algae are used as food or food supplements, and they are also a rich source of bioactive compounds (polyunsaturated fatty acids, sulfated polysaccharides, antioxidant compounds, etc.) whose functions include eliminating free radicals, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and fighting tumors and cancer, among others.
Macro algae, if harvested directly from the sea, can be an alternative feeding approach when applied during fattening of organisms in aquaculture production in the region. Also, researchers have conducted experiments examining in-vitro degradation, associating characteristics such as color (green, red and brown), with treatments such as sun exposure with daily monitoring of material degradation by the action of bacteria and the environment.
Importantly, since antiquity, macro algae have been used as soil amendments in some coastal areas of the world. In this sense, large amounts of algal biomass are placed in rocky or sandy soil and with the passage of time, a layer of humus is formed, enough to support farming since the algae provides nutrients and also increases the water retention capacity.
Also, in some regions of the world macro algae are used in the manufacture of flour or in the production of agricultural fertilizers, either by composting mixed with other agricultural waste or through the application of different chemical treatments. Therefore, the seaweeds found on different coasts of Mexico, if utilized properly, could be a window of opportunity for many productive activities in the country.
Yojaira Paternina Cordoba has a degree in Animal Husbandry from the National University of Colombia. She currently manages production, technical and marketing activities at Piscicola del Valle, S.A., specializing in production of red tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and the white cachama (Piaractus brachypomus).