EcoSea, which specializes in copper net enclosures, was chosen to lead the technology development program for Ocean Aquaculture, Chile 2023 – a six-year project backed by an investment of more than 6.3 billion pesos (7, US $ 4 million).
The new initiative aims to establish the technical requirements for aquaculture at sea with submersible cages, as well as to provide the basis for its future legislation at sea in Chile, due to the limited potential for growth in the coastal areas of the country.
“We are a country with more than 4,200 kilometers of coastline. We have extraordinary possibilities to succeed in evolving towards a more sustainable aquaculture, far from the coast and using cutting-edge technologies that allow the industry to develop in a sustainable way ”, said Fabián Avilés, director of the technological development program for oceanic aquaculture.
A 40 meter diameter submersible cage prototype has been developed by EcoSea, which reports that during the production cycle, there were no predator attacks or escapes; high growth rates; and an 18 percent drop in production costs.
According to EcoSea, salmon have been shown to grow at a better rate than in traditional nylon cages, because although fish of similar size were obtained, the prototype was stored two months later and with salmon that were originally 47.5% smaller. The company also reported a 2% lower fatality rate and is estimated to have avoided the emission of 27 tonnes of CO2.
“The production cycle with the submersible cage raft showed rapid growth development, low bacterial and parasitic (Caligus lice) loads and no loss due to sea lion attacks. Operationally, the technology is very user-friendly, safe and efficient, with very low fouling adhesion, thus validating a robust and reliable aquaculture system, ”said Omar Cheuquepil, production manager at Invermar, who is also part of the project.
The technological consortium also includes Innovex, Novatech, the Fraunhofer Foundation, the Aex group, Sitecna and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. The program is supported by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (SERNAPESCA), the Fisheries Undersecretariat (SUBPESCA) and receives financial support from CORFO.