Macroalgae Commercialization: Successful Pilot Study Sets the Stage

21 Dec 2023

Macroalgae Commercialization: Successful Pilot Study Sets the Stage

The outcomes from the algae cultivation pilot tests conducted in the Ebro Delta bays and at IRTA’s La Ràpita facilities indicate the potential initiation of macroalgae commercialization in Catalonia in 2024. Additionally, these results have been utilized to develop a guide for aquaculture operators contemplating the cultivation of macroalgae in their installations.

“The commercial exploitation of macroalgae in Catalonia could begin in the first half of 2024,” stated Sergi Tudela, the Director General of Maritime Policy and Sustainable Fisheries, during an international event organized by the Department of Climate Action, Food, and Rural Agenda. The event focused on exploring the potential of macroalgae cultivation as a diversification option for traditional aquaculture crops along the Catalan coast, particularly in the bays of the Ebro Delta, which are mainly focused on mussel and flat oyster production. Additionally, a significant increase in global demand for macroalgae is anticipated.

The results of the initial pilot tests for macroalgae cultivation, conducted in natural and controlled conditions since April in the bays of the Ebro Delta and at the IRTA facilities in La Ràpita, have been positively evaluated. These tests, carried out in collaboration with industry representatives and companies, “have provided valuable insights into the cultivation methodology of macroalgae to enable future commercial exploitation,” according to Sergi Tudela.

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The experiments have underscored the importance of identifying the most appropriate algae species according to the natural conditions of the targeted production setting. Furthermore, they have stressed the significance of implementing preventive measures to mitigate predation and competition from opportunistic species in the region. The findings highlight the ongoing necessity for further research to enhance our comprehension of macroalgae cultivation techniques.

Additionally, the findings have been employed to develop a guide aimed at supporting aquaculture operators contemplating macroalgae cultivation, and this guide was also unveiled at the event. Josep Usall, the Director General of IRTA, expressed that in the face of existing and upcoming challenges, there exists a noteworthy opportunity to experiment with and showcase innovative strategies and solutions. These endeavors aim to enhance productivity and diversification within aquaculture, all while upholding principles of sustainability and coexistence with the natural surroundings.

The meeting, featuring delegates from the Aquaculture Division of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), had the goal of safeguarding the conservation and sustainable utilization of living marine resources, as well as fostering sustainable development in aquaculture within the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.

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In the pursuit of more pertinent and environmentally beneficial aquaculture practices, the European Union stands as a significant global importer of algae and microalgae products. The European Commission views the promotion and expansion of algae production as a strategic imperative for achieving food sovereignty and as a means to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Strategic priorities outlined in Catalonia’s Maritime Strategy 2018-2030 include initiatives to promote sustainable cultivation of algae and microalgae, along with restorative aquaculture. This strategy seeks to affirm Catalonia’s maritime standing and underscore the significance of a sustainable blue economy as a key economic driver.

While traditional capture fishing will remain significant, aquaculture has already demonstrated its importance for global food security. However, recognizing that increased production should not compromise the environment, there is a need for novel approaches to ensure sustainable aquaculture. This is where the concept of restorative or low-impact aquaculture becomes relevant, emphasizing practices that not only aim to generate food but also strive to rehabilitate and enhance ecosystems and the well-being of surrounding human and animal communities.

Source: IRTA

You may also like to read: “Phytoadaptogens as a tool to Improve animal welfare in aquaculture”

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