The interaction between salmon farming and the ecosystem is one of the industry's greatest environmental challenges. For this reason, the Chilean producer Blumar and The Nature Conservancy (TCN) Chile have joined with the Universidad de Los Lagos (Los Lagos University) to unveil the role of algae in the sector.
To generate solutions that point to an environmentally and economically viable future, alliances between the different actors in society are fundamental. In this context, and financed by the Walmart Foundation, this project seeks to deliver both, ecological benefits to the ecosystem and economic benefits to coastal communities through the cultivation of algae associated with salmon farms.
It is known that algae are great capturers of inorganic nutrients and contribute to maintaining the quality of marine waters. This project aims to specifically understand how they contribute to a better interaction between fish farming and the ecosystem, as well as to contribute to the improvement of sustainability in the Chilean aquaculture industry.
To this end, the organizations involved will develop a program to cultivate algae in Blumar's farms. The objective is to investigate and demonstrate the capacity of these production systems, as well as to contribute to the development of multi-trophic aquaculture by incorporating algae as an absorption and nutrient mechanism for salmon farming.
"Algae farming allows us to improve our interaction with the ecosystem, as well as the habitat of a wide variety of coastal organisms," noted Salmones Blumar's commercial director, Daniel Montoya. "Algae farming contributes to mitigating the impacts of salmon farming on water quality, improving the current health of Chile's marine ecosystems and, in addition, algae aquaculture is an important economic activity in Chile and one that will benefit local coastal communities," he added.
The project will last 24 months and will not only seek to evaluate the feasibility of using seaweed aquaculture to improve the interaction between the ecosystem and the salmon farming industry but also to demonstrate the operational, environmental, and economic viability of community-based algae farming through farms.
"It’s expected that working with the salmon industry in this way will be a step forward to improving environmental conditions in the waters where they operate," said Juan José Donoso, executive director of The Nature Conservancy Chile. "This project has potential benefits for the environment and for the people who have lived for generations where the salmon farms operate."
"Interest in algae is showing an increase at a global level in different areas ranging from food to the production of products of high pharmaceutical value," pointed out the researchers of the i~mar Center of Universidad de Los Lagos, Dr. Carolina Camus, director of the MASH Millennium Nucleus and Dr. Alejandro Buschmann, CeBiB Senior Researcher. "For several years, the algae group of the i~mar Center has been looking for alternatives to encourage the development of algae cultivation as primary producers that offer benefits to coastal communities and at the same time evaluating the ecosystem services that they can provide to man."
Blumar Seafoods is a company dedicated to fishing and aquaculture. Its fishing products are frozen horse mackerel for human consumption and fishmeal and fish oil for use in animal feed. In aquaculture, Blumar produces premium quality Atlantic salmon and coho salmon. With over 60 years of experience in the industry, the company has excelled in the development of quality products while maintaining harmony with the environment.