Hernández-Rodríguez, A., Alceste-Oliviero, C., Sanchez, R., Jory, D., Vidal, L. & Constain-Franco, L.-F. 2001. Aquaculture development trends in Latin America and the Caribbean. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000. pp. 317-340. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
ABSTRACT: Aquaculture production from the region in 1997 was 2.1 percent of the volume of world aquaculture output and 5.1 percent of value. It was 4 percent of the total fisheries production in the region. Real annual growth of production in the South American Subregion was about 20 percent. Farmed production was concentrated in salmonids (in Chile) and shrimps (in Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia Peru, Panama and Belize), which were mainly export products. It is estimated that 90 percent of cultured shrimp and salmonids, 50 percent of tilapia and 90 percent of Gracilaria seaweed (Chile) are exported. Oysters account for about 65 percent of molluscs in the region, and freshwater fish farming accounts for more than a fifth of the total volume of aquaculture production. Tilapia culture (Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica and Jamaica) has the highest growth rate. Carp production (Mexico, Cuba and Brazil) is mainly of two species and has been increasing, as has Colossoma spp. (in Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela). In recent years, diseases have had a major impact on shrimp aquaculture. Salmon production has been less affected by disease. Growout feed production is dominated by a small number of feed companies. The environment has a substantial impact on aquaculture, particularly in the coastal areas, and natural disturbances such as the El Niño episodes and hurricanes represent a major risk to aquaculture enterprises. Laws and regulations on the environment and aquaculture are complex and often unmanageable. Legal and institutional constraints exist regarding the development of export-oriented aquaculture. An important role of the state will be to improve the efficiency of the sector through the development of information systems in support of farmers and investors. Trade agreements, both bilateral and multilateral, have played an increasingly important role in international trade in aquaculture products. For instance, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) Agreement has stimulated trade, promoted fair competition, increased investment opportunities and protected and enforced intellectual property. Due to the social and economic situation in Latin America, aquaculture production tends to place priority on the generation of foreign exchange. Although industrial aquaculture has generated a lot of employment in countries like Ecuador and Chile, the real potential of the region lies in the medium and small-scale rural aquaculture which strongly depends of government participation in aquaculture development. Fish culture development by small-scale companies is limited by the difficulties arising from macro-economic policies, privatization and national budget reductions. The current trend away from state involvement may actually serve to constrain such development. As Latin America moves away from big government, rural aquafarmers will need to find alternatives to support development. With industrial aquaculture, the government is providing an enabling environment rather than taking a direct role in it. The availability of land for the expansion of export-oriented aquaculture is not a problem; for example only 16 percent of the available area suitable for shrimp culture is under cultivation. An additional 2-3 million mt of fish will be required for Latin American consumption by 2010.
KEY WORDS: Latin America, Caribbean, Aquaculture, Fish Farming, Development
Aquaculture began in Latin America2 and the Caribbean3 in the 1940s, mainly for recreational and restocking purposes. In the 1960s and 1970s, the activity was oriented towards the production of food for local consumption and for the diversification of rural activities related to agriculture and animal husbandry. During the past 20 years, the development of aquaculture has been significant within the region. The implementation of the latest production systems and the use of new technologies have enabled the players to manage their productive resources more efficiently, enabling the sector to contribute significantly to food supply, employment and foreign currency. These factors are all of great importance to the countries in the region, and both marine and freshwater aquaculture offer a productive alternative of considerable social and economic value.
Changes in developmental processes and macro-economic policies, leaving protectionism for the conditions of the open market, have had a considerable impact on the farming systems used, management and the ability to penetrate foreign markets. The combination of privatization with government spending reductions has limited considerably the performance and development programmes in rural aquaculture areas. These areas have also been negatively affected by the reduction of financial resources available from international cooperation agencies.
Increasing competition within the local market has occurred, where products of small-scale aquaculture are competing with the lower prices and higher quality of imports or large-scale domestic production. Value is now added to the products of national aquaculture, produced from extensive, semi-intensive and intensive aquaculture systems, by providing a more competitive and attractive commodity for the consumer. This has been achieved through the use of innovative technologies and capital investment and allows the domestic product to be more competitive, not only with imports on the local market, but also within target export markets.
Farm-raised aquaculture products must meet specific international standards, not only for the environmental protection of natural resources, but also for the postharvest conditions required. Such standards invariably increase production costs and, in some cases, limit the commercial potential or market scope of the products.
| Some developed countries have adopted nontariff entry barriers
that create obstacles, which limit the growth and potential contribution
of commercial aquaculture in the region.
Regional macro-economic conditions which affect aquaculture adversely are numerous and include export market fluctuations, financial crises, demand stagnation, high unemployment levels, fiscal deficit, institutional reforms and regional integration processes. Obviously, these factors are of great concern to entrepreneurs who are engaged in the production process since, if they are to compete in global markets, they need to achieve their production and marketing objectives in efficient and profitable conditions.
Many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela, have experienced periods of economic recession, inflation and interest rate fluctuation. Due to these unstable and changing economic environments, it is difficult to achieve accurate economic forecasts. Furthermore, governmental restrictions, such as applied to trade terms and/or tariff modifications, can also greatly affect farming operations and production. Economic and trading information is either not available or difficult to obtain from farming companies. The combination of all of these factors limits a true economic evaluation.
In the past, the entry of regional products into the international trade markets was difficult, usually because either the domestic product was substandard or the manufacturer was unable to diversify sufficiently. Currently, domestic producers are trading within the international arena, allowing them to intensify the export of finished products and to liberalize the import of required raw materials.
The further development of aquaculture in Latin America will depend on the successful application of efficient technologies, innovation, modernization and reconversion processes. It will also depend on decreasing production and labour costs, producing a high-quality product, understanding the market and obtaining an adequate return on investment.
In the decade under study, 1988-1997, aquaculture has experienced a significant growth in 21 countries of the region. Total regional aquaculture production increased from around 87 000 mt (1984) to 179 000 mt in 1988 and to 783 000 mt in 1997. During the same period, the value of regional aquaculture rose from US$344 million in 1984 to US$852 million in 1988 and had reached US$2.7 billion by 1997.
Figure 1 demonstrates the manner of the growth during the decade, showing both volume and value. Within this overall picture, there are other observations that will be developed further in this document. The APR [Annual Percent Rate of growth] for the region, representing aquaculture growth for the period under review, were 18 percent for volume and 13 percent for value. The Caribbean had lower APRs, 11 percent for volume and 8 percent for value. In 1997, the Caribbean countries provided 6 percent of the regional aquaculture volume but only 2 percent of the value, where Cuba is responsible for 92 percent of the production reported.
With the Latin American countries providing 94 percent of regional aquaculture production, one can note the importance of the activity in Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. For the period under study, South America and the Caribbean contributed some 80 percent of aquaculture production, while Central America and Mexico supplied 20 percent (Table 1).
In global terms, while aquaculture production in the Latin American Region represented only 2.2 percent of the worlds production in 1997, its contribution has doubled during the decade (1.1 percent in 1988).
The value of regional aquaculture has grown three-fold in the decade,
and nearly eight-fold since 1984. By 1997, sales from South America represented
77.4 percent of the regional total, with the Caribbean providing 2 percent.
During the 1990s, the export increases seen for Chile, Ecuador, Colombia
and Honduras reflect the increased aquaculture production in these countries.
|Within the region, six countries contributed 93 percent of
production in 1997 - Chile (48 percent), Ecuador (17 percent), Brazil (11
percent), Colombia (6 percent), Cuba (6 percent) and Mexico (5 percent).
This demonstrates significant change from the position seen in 1987 when
Ecuador (48 percent), Cuba (12 percent) and Mexico (11 percent) were the
Regional aquaculture has concentrated on two main products, salmonids and shrimp, whose production is predominantly exported to the United States, Japan and Europe. Salmonid production in Chile (1997) comprised 32 percent (247 970 mt) in volume and 32 percent in the value of the total aquaculture production in the region. Shrimp production in Ecuador represented 17.3 percent (132 709 mt) of the volume and 32.4 percent of the value of the region.
Salmon farming development has been concentrated almost exclusively in Chile, with production rates higher than any other aquaculture activity in the region. The 171 000 mt produced in 1997 represented 23 percent of world-wide production, placing Chile second after Norway.
Trout farming gave nearly 91 000 mt, or 35 percent of salmonid production in 1997 and has played an important role in the growth of aquaculture in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Between 1988 and 1997, these countries contributed 91.4 percent of the total production in the region.
In the 1990s, marine shrimp farming developed considerably in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Ecuador. In fact, Ecuador was the centre of shrimp farming, producing approximately 14 percent (132 709 mt) of the total world-wide production.
For molluscs, production has centred on oysters, scallops and mussels. During the past 10 years, mollusc production has grown especially in Chile, Mexico and Brazil, starting with 4 000 mt in 1988 and reaching 35 000 mt in 1997 (Fig. 2).
Freshwater fish farming, with 130 000 mt, represents around 17 percent of aquaculture production, where a wide range of species are of interest. Important quantities of cachama (Brazil and Venezuela), carps (Brazil and Mexico), characins (Brazil) and catfish (Brazil and Mexico) are being farmed. Twenty thousand metric tonnes of rainbow trout is farmed, being produced from eight Latin American countries. While many countries have started to produce tilapia, the main producers (Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica and Jamaica) contribute 95 percent of the volume.
Carp production in the region is concentrated in two species, silver
carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio).
Production has increased in Brazil, Cuba and Mexico, where 97 percent
of the farms are concentrated, providing 67 000 mt in 1997. The same growth
trend can be observed for the cachamas (Colossoma spp., mainly C. brachypomum).
During the past 10 years, the production of Colossoma has risen from 400
mt in 1988 to nearly 20 000 mt in 1997, mainly in Colombia, Brazil and
|In respect of aquatic plants, the seaweed Gracilaria spp.
stands out (over 100 000 mt in 1997), being produced primarily in Chile.
This activity has demonstrated constant growth, both in volume and value,
where Gracilaria is mainly used in the agar-agar industry and is in constant
demand (Fig. 3).
Policy makers and commercial farmers need to be aware of new trends in production, technological improvements, quality issues and marketing strategies, both in national and international markets. The further development of marine and freshwater aquaculture in the region will depend on the success of competitive commercial integration strategies in the international arena.
To be able to enter and compete in international markets, sanitary and environmental issues must be addressed in detail. These issues are outlined in the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) process and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). These international standards require aquaculture producers to follow rules regulating production activities, postharvest practices and preservation of natural resources.
| production, resulting in rapid growth and expansion
of the sector. The dominant shrimp species in Latin America are the white
shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and the blue shrimp (L. stylirostris).
Currently, commercial farms exist in 20 countries of the region. The private sector has thus played a key role in the development of shrimp culture in Latin America, which is composed mainly of small and mid-scale companies that have access to private and public capital. Additionally, these companies have been able to access technology that has allowed production process improvements, enabling improved competitiveness in the marketplace.
Commercial shrimp farms in the region vary between 10 and 500 ha in size, and most systems are semi-intensive. Management uses qualified personnel, and most operate at high professional levels. Shrimp farming, processing and marketing generate more than 750 000 direct and indirect jobs in the region, resulting in a favourable social and economic contribution. In the region, governments generally acknowledge shrimp farming to be a genuine mechanism for diversification of the economy, for generating employment in economically depressed areas and to earn hard currency. Export earnings from international shrimp sales, therefore, assist the payment of the foreign public debt.
Obtaining reliable production data can be difficult in Latin America due to a number of reasons. One example is that producers are discouraged from reporting their entire yields due to taxes imposed by some countries on shrimp production. Another factor is the producers fear of publicizing what he is (or is not) capable of producing. Finally, there is considerable statistical confusion between shrimp produced by aquaculture and those taken from fisheries.
The main producing countries, in order of importance (1997), are Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize. In 1997, 88 percent of penaeid shrimp production was provided by the combined production of the first five countries. Production estimates for 1998 were approximately 218 000 mt. The APR fluctuated considerably from 1988 to 1997, ranging between -15 percent and 34 percent, with an annual average of 10.3 percent.
| Disease outbreaks affected the sector in most countries of
the region during the 1990s. Despite these circumstances (for example, the
Taura syndrome that appeared in 1993), a significant trend to increase production
has been reported.
In 1997, countries in the Western Hemisphere produced over 200 000 mt, equivalent to 21 percent of global production, while Ecuador was the third largest individual producer (after Thailand and Indonesia), representing 13.3 percent. While other regional countries make less important individual contributions (none over 2 percent), their combined production provides 6.4 percent of global production.
The region possesses over 240 000 ha of ponds, which represents 28 percent of the estimated global pond surface (869 470 ha). Of note is the fact that the regions production is made by 2 percent (2 617) of the estimated total number (171 450) of shrimp farms world-wide, indicating that the farms in the Western Hemisphere have a much larger surface area than their counterparts in the Eastern Hemisphere. The region has approximately 471 hatcheries that produce shrimp postlarvae for seeding, and they provide 11 percent of the world-wide total (4 189 mt). The annual productivity rate is approximately 941 kg/ha which, although varying between 727 and 3 750 kg/ha/year, is 9 percent higher than the global average of 861 kg/ha/year.
In the region, countries can be grouped into three basic productivity categories (Table 2), based on production, pond area and time (mt/ha/year):
Hurricane Mitch and the appearance of the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) are two events that caused significant negative impacts on shrimp production in Latin America. Hurricane Mitch
|scourged Central America in October 1998, primarily Honduras
and Nicaragua, causing water overflow conditions in 50 percent of the pond
area. Honduran and Nicaraguan production companies incurred losses estimated
to be at least US$50 million. Fortunately, the infrastructure of most farms
did not suffer large damage and many are now back in production.
In Asia, WSSV has caused severe economic losses to the shrimp industry; due to the effects of the virus, China reported losses of US$1 billion in 1993, while in 1995, Thailand lost over US$500 million. At the end of January 1999, WSSV was detected in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. Later, the virus was also reported in Panama, Ecuador and on Colombias Pacific coast. Most countries in the region have now closed their frontiers to imports of larvae, as well as broodstock. Despite great losses caused by WSSV in Central America, it is important that the industry understands that such a situation can be managed. It has been reported that some shrimp farms in Brazil, Ecuador and Honduras are using tilapia with shrimp in polyculture at commercial levels, in spite of the fact that many shrimp producers have considered tilapia to be an undesirable species. However, in zones severely affected by Taura syndrome, shrimp survival rates apparently improved when tilapia was included in polyculture.
Commercialization and markets
Shrimp is the main crustacean product that is traded on international markets, and Latin American shrimp production is intended primarily for the United States market, as tails only product. Some producers have trade contracts with European countries for the whole head on shrimp, while others trade with Japan. All three markets are very demanding in terms of quality and processing standards. During the past decade, Latin American shrimp aquaculture experienced significant growth and, as a consequence, the selling structures established in the 1980s changed drastically. These marketing changes, accompanied by the Asian economic crisis, confirmed predictions that prices would eventually decrease and that trading patterns with North America would have to be revised. This forecast was confirmed in 1998, when local production in the United States plus imports increased by 19 percent, resulting in a significant fall in shrimp prices.
Over the last 15 years, seafood consumption in the European Union (EU) grew significantly, for a number of different but complementary reasons.
| A decline in red meat consumption, increased dietary awareness,
strong seafood advertising and enforced controls on fishing quotas are among
the factors that have combined to increase demand that is not satisfied
by EU seafood production.
The EU is increasingly dependent on imported seafood products to satisfy the consumer demand for seafood, and advertising efforts, generic or specific, are increasingly required within a competitive marketplace. Access to the EUs seafood markets requires conformity to very strict sanitary standards, which are designed for the guarantee of products of the highest quality and assure consumer protection. EU countries with the highest rates of seafood consumption include Spain, France, Italy and Germany and, combined, they import over 22 percent of global production. The EUs dependence on Latin American production has increased significantly due to the restrictions imposed on EU fisheries.
Farmed shrimp in Latin America has been recognized for its standard of quality, this being a result of the advanced technology used by the industry and the use of efficient controls to fulfil national and international sanitary regulations. With the increase of exports to developed countries, it has been necessary to maintain quality standards and to guarantee the appropriate packaging and labelling.
| These concepts are within the origins of the programme for
HACCP, a system which regulates, from a sanitary point of view, all fishery
and aquaculture products entering into the United States. For the European
market, this condition was made mandatory through Directives 91/493/CEE
With the expansion of shrimp aquaculture, concern has been raised as to the possibilities of introducing pathogens through the increased transfer of live organisms. The risks identified can affect not only shrimp aquaculture but also the natural, wild populations. Control measures on translocation vary with each country, but there is genuine concern in the region that farming practices in the coastal zones of one country can affect its neighbours. As a consequence, in clear recognition of this issue, producing countries have established quarantine procedures to prevent the dispersion of aquatic diseases through live transfers.
The expansion of shrimp farming has caused enormous ecological concerns in the international community. These ecological issues include the prevention and implementation of corrective measures, mangrove destruction and water pollution.
| Other concerns include how farming affects native populations
of wild shrimp, the length of culture periods and the salinity of agricultural
grounds. These concerns have become the limiting factor for the expansion
of the shrimp industry in Latin America.
Avoidance of the destruction of mangroves has become the main concern of both shrimp producers and environmentalists, but accurate information as to the sum of the mangrove forests destroyed in relation to the shrimp culture in the region is difficult to quantify. Agriculture, salt production, urbanization, wood extraction and mining are all activities that have had impacts on the mangroves.
The use of more intensive production systems has raised the level of environmental concern as to the quantity and quality of effluents generated by shrimp farms. These effluents could potentially change the water and the composition of sediment in the surrounding areas, causing biological changes in the benthic structure. The majority of shrimp farms have established mechanisms for effluent control, including measures such as water and sediment management techniques and polyculture systems using filtering organisms and biofilters. These control methods have improved the efficiency of use of feeds and fertilizers, minimizing the effects of organic and inorganic materials that are discharged into natural systems.
Biodiversity and genetics
A main concern of environmental groups is the effect of fishing for broodstock and postlarvae in the wild, where it is claimed that wild stock depletion would impact negatively on the biodiversity of the area fished, as well as diminishing the traditional shrimp fisheries (both artisanal and industrial). At present, however, there is no conclusive evidence that proves shrimp culture to have negatively affected traditional fisheries in any country in Latin America.
Another topic of concern is the potential for alterations to the genetic pool, in a specific country, caused by the international transfer of genetic material. It is forecast that such a situation would cause or favour the introduction of diseases to native populations. Researchers who have dealt with these issues have concluded that natural postlarvae and adult populations have decreased in number over the years, but have attributed this to the changes in the macro-regional climate and oceanographic phenomena, such as El Niño.
Diseases and pathogens
Perhaps the most important constraint in the development of the shrimp industry in Latin America in the past decade has been the appearance of infectious and noninfectious diseases. Estimates indicate that the worlds production of shrimp did not increase significantly in terms of volume since 1994 due to the emergence of diseases.
Among the wide range of infectious illnesses that can occur, viral diseases caused the greatest concern for the industry, government and environmental groups. In 1989, six viruses affected the genus Penaeus while, by 1997, over 20 viruses were identified as having affected wild stock and commercial shrimp production. These pathogens have great destructive power and can be disseminated through water and/or other carrier species. This is true for the yellowhead (YHV), white spot syndrome (WSSV) and Taura syndrome (TSV) viruses.
Diseases cause an estimated loss of US$3 billion every year within the world-wide shrimp industry. In the Western Hemisphere alone, TSV caused losses of US$1 billion. In the short term, the development of appropriate pathogen diagnostic techniques and evaluation techniques for conditions concerning shrimp immunity will reduce the impact of infectious and noninfectious diseases.
Efforts to mitigate losses will be helped by the application of shrimp genetic research to the commercial sector. Researchers have domesticated wild strains of shrimp through quantitative genetic selection techniques. Research has been implemented to develop genetic manipulation techniques that allow the creation of genes that are resistant to specific pathogens and which are transmissible to progeny.
Research and development
In a joint research effort between the public and the private sector, Colombia has established a US$5.8 million genetic research programme on the Colombian variety of Litopenaeus vannamei. The goals are to improve the survival and growth rate (even when TSV is present) by 12 and 15 percent, respectively.
|Since 1977, the Mexican private sector has sponsored a research
project to domesticate and to genetically select the wild broodstock of
L. vannamei, where Nayari, San Blas and Panama
form the initial group of broodstock. The selection criteria consider the
parameters of growth, reproductive behaviour and physiological index.
Other countries in the region, such as Panama, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, have also developed plans to start programmes for the genetic selection of shrimp. In Ecuador, joint efforts made by the National Chamber of Aquaculture and a prestigious research centre are being made to promote a comprehensive study programme. This programme will study molecular markers and indicators of different immunological stages of development and also establish levels of disease tolerance for specific shrimp populations.
Between 1989 and 1990, the exotic species L. vannamei and L. stylirostris were both introduced in Venezuela. Venezuelan legislation forced the industry to close the biological cycles of both species, avoiding the need to import or use wild-caught larvae. Presently Venezuela is free of TSV.
The success of the Venezuelan industry is based on the domestication of these species, where L. vannamei is at generation 15, while L. stylirostris is at generation 20. The maturation of captive stocks without ocular ablation, and the practices of selection and cross-breeding, have allowed farmers to improve the genetic characteristics of the broodstock. Following this methodology, a line of L. stylirostris tolerant to infectious hypodermic and haematopoeitic necrosis virus IHHNV (Super Shrimp) has been developed and is currently being used very successfully in Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia.
The expansion of shrimp farming in Latin America can be related directly to the feeding strategies adopted by the production sector. In Latin America, most of the feeds used in semi-intensive and intensive systems are commercially made. This is unlike the situation seen in Asia, where it is estimated that 50 percent of production is reared using feed products made on-farm.
Global estimates indicate a production of farmed shrimp of 660 200 mt in 1997 (FAO, 2000). In 1997, the world-wide production of balanced feeds for marine shrimp farming was 1.2 million mt (assuming a feeding conversion ratio of 2 to 1) with an estimated value of US$750 million.
| Projections of aquaculture feed production (for shrimp and
other species) for the immediate future vary considerably, reflecting degrees
of uncertainty towards production statistics. Balanced, manufactured feeds
normally represent 40-50 percent of the variable costs of producing marine
shrimp. The use of poor feeds can cause losses to farms due to low digestibility
rates, nutritional deficiencies or even inadequate use. Mismanagement of
feed distribution can lead to discharging unused feed in the effluent and
result, potentially, in the pollution of the surrounding ecosystem.
In Latin America, information is scarce on the nutritional requirements of the penaeid shrimps used in aquaculture. World-wide nutritional investigations have focused on Penaeus japonicus, P. monodon and L. vannamei. These species require similar nutrients, but are produced at different quantitative levels. Unfortunately, research conducted in laboratory conditions is difficult to interpret to field conditions, due to the influence of natural biota obtained in extensive and semi-intensive culture systems.
Natural biota in ponds can significantly increase the production profitability margin for farmers, where manufactured feeds contribute 23-24 percent of the nutritional requirements and the natural pond productivity supplies the rest.
Of the essential nutrients, proteins are considered to be the most important, since they represent 70 percent of a shrimps dry weight. However, there is controversy as to the origin of these proteins and the costs associated with their inclusion in the shrimp diet. In Latin America, there is tremendous room for improvement in the field of feed manufacture for commercial shrimp aquaculture.
Reports indicate that, at a global level, the aquaculture industry has reduced its dependence on fishmeal in feed formulation. In 1997, production of fishmeal decreased by 1.4 million mt compared to 1996, attaining its lowest production level in 15 years. Many countries in the region have focused effort on finding alternatives (partial or total) for fishmeal. As an example, Mexico is evaluating the potential use of poultry by-products (hydrolyzed feather meal, viscera meal) within diets for aquatic animals. Fertilization is recognized as an important nutritional source for semi-intensive shrimp culture, and it is important for pond managers to develop an effective management programme of improving natural productivity through the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers.
Issues, constraints and opportunities for future development
Limiting factors for the future development of the shrimp-farming sector in Latin America and the Caribbean are as follows:
Latin America has extensive areas that are conducive to shrimp culture, but accurate data has not yet been compiled for the total potential area that could be applied. Current estimates indicate that the region possesses nearly 1.5 million ha for this type of aquaculture.
In the Latin American Region, governments and the private sector recognize shrimp farming as an important activity that makes significant contributions, including:
|If producers have the ability to overcome the existing limitations,
then their productivity and levels of production will improve.
The culture of salmonid fish was introduced into the Latin American Region as a way of diversifying traditional, rural agricultural activities. Two genera of the family Salmonidae are Oncorhynchus and Salmo, which contain the species known colloquially as trout and salmon. They make up the main fish group reared in mariculture, and have the highest commercial revenue for maricultured fish species sold internationally. While Norway is the worlds leading country for farming salmonids, a position that is dominated by salmon production, it is followed by Chile, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Trout is farmed both in fresh water, usually to be sold as portion-size fish, and in marine conditions for the production of individual sizes exceeding 1 kg. Numerically, countries in the region tend to focus on freshwater rainbow trout (over 21 000 mt in 1997), while regional marine trout farming is limited to Chile (61 492 mt in 1997). In Latin America and the Caribbean, the salmonid sector has not reached the industrial level desired, with the notable exception of Chile. However, in recent years, new technology has been adopted for feed manufacturing and rearing techniques, improving the productivity of traditional systems.
Between 1988 and 1997, Colombia demonstrated good growth for freshwater trout production, both in terms of the volume and the value of the activity. Production increased thirteen fold, resulting in a sales value increase from US$4 million to 43 million.
Trout aquaculture in Colombia is made up of approximately 35 companies,
which generate more than 2 750 direct and indirect jobs. Most production
is sold locally, although significant sales have been made in export markets.
In Colombia, the competitiveness of trout farming is reduced by the high
cost of feeds. This is despite the fact that Colombia offers great potential
for expansion of the activity, including year-round fingerling supplies
and available technology.
|Elsewhere in the region, the performance of trout farming
has been variable, tending to reflect the consolidation of existing farms
rather than the construction of new ones. Marine trout production is concentrated
in Chile, and its expansion has followed that of salmon, moving from 20
mt in 1988 to 69 000 mt in 1997. Since the marine production of large-size
trout provides a product that is competitive with salmon, its characteristics
will be grouped with those of salmon.
Chile is the centre of salmonid culture in the region, reaching 248 000 mt in 1997, of which 171 000 mt (69 percent) were salmon species. It is also the only country of the region that produces salmon commercially. Salmon production comprises two main species, the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and the coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Two other species, which are produced in lesser quantities, are the king salmon (O. tschawytscha) and the masu or cherry salmon (O. masou).
Production has increased from 4 200 mt in 1988 to 240 000 mt for 1997, representing a 57-fold growth and an APR of 51 percent. This significant growth is summarized in Table 3.
Chiles growth in salmonid farming has been due to advantages in the following factors:
Such suitable conditions have attracted foreign investment in aquaculture from countries like Norway, the United Kingdom and Japan. During this period of almost exponential growth with a median growth rate of 69 percent per year, it is interesting to note that while coho salmon was the dominant species from 1987-1991, from 1992 onwards Atlantic salmon has been the leader.
Rainbow trout production started to increase significantly from 1991 onwards, almost matching coho salmon in importance by 1997. In 1997, Atlantic salmon contributed 40 percent of the total marine salmonid harvest, followed by coho salmon (31 percent) and rainbow trout (29 percent). Today over 60 operating companies are dedicated to this activity. There are more than 456 concessions (authorized by government) for farming, 1 400 hatcheries and approximately 4 500 ha in production. Approximately 80 of the 186 sites in the country that are authorized for fish culture are operating at present. The salmon producers had limited access to estuaries and freshwater bodies for the fingerling stages, a position that limited the acquisition of smolts (juvenile salmon of freshwater origin which can adapt physiologically to the marine environment). In 1992, the granting of concessions for such activities in these water bodies was terminated, but in 1996, the position was reviewed and new allowances were made that follow reviewed operating criteria prepared by national authorities.
|During the past few years, there has been a trend for the
reorganization of the large-scale companies which have attained vertical
integration in the culture stages (in fresh water and salt water) and economies
of scale. Many have established systems for processing and the manufacture
of a range of different products. It is estimated that 65 percent of the
Chilean salmon production sector has been integrated with companies that
supply materials and services (e.g. feed manufacturing, processing equipment,
nets, workshops, laboratories, transportation etc.). The exponential growth
of the industry has generated a large number of jobs in the country, reaching
approximately 15 000 positions directly related to the culture process.
Medium- and large-size companies have diverse and complex organizational structures. In general, the managerial levels of all companies are comprised of engineers, biologists, technicians and veterinarians, such professionals representing 10-15 percent of the companys employees. The remaining staff have limited and/or specialized skills for specific functions, such as foremen, feeders, divers, switchmen and carpenters.
The main objective in recent years has been for companies to optimize their production processes and increase productivity. New technologies and management procedures have been adopted for optimizing different components of the production process, focusing on the areas that require specific work skills, such as feeding, harvesting and net-cleaning.
Initially, in Chile, most activities relating to salmon production were done manually. Today production units require new and efficient technology to enable cost reduction and to minimize environmental impacts. Many production units use automatic feeders, fish grading/counting equipment and waste food collectors underneath the cages. Some companies have invested in underwater camera monitoring, predator detectors and fish pumps as a way to mechanize and systematize operations. Complementary to technological development, some have plans for genetic improvement as a means for raising productivity.
Salmon culture is done in two phases, the first being in fresh water, while the second is in the sea. It starts with the incubation of spawn, requiring land-based systems for the growth of fingerlings. At the point where the degree of maturity allows transition to sea water, the juvenile fish are put into lagoons for smolting.
| On-growing or fattening is done entirely in sea cages stocked
with smolts of 50-100 gm that are grown up to the commercial sizes.
The technology applied at all stages allows salmon farming to be done with celerity, efficiency and quality, combining cost reduction with the minimization of environmental impacts. Nonetheless, in comparison to European practices, mechanization and equipment in Latin America continue to be inferior. European aquaculture is constantly investigating and applying new technologies, a position that is clearly reflected by the number of people required to manage a farm. In Norway, a farm of 1 500 mt is managed by six people, while in Chile the same unit would require 12-15 people.
Commercialization and markets
Chile is the second largest producer of cultured salmonids in the world (after Norway), the primary supplier of salmonids to Japan, and the second largest supplier to the United States (after Canada). It has achieved this position in the international marketplace due to its ability to produce a competitive product, surpassing national benthic and demersal fisheries. The success of Chilean aquaculture in respect of salmonid production is due to many factors, including favourable environmental conditions, low production costs, a global market for the product and the provision of public and private investment to the sector. Access to export markets has increased as a direct result of developments in quality control, value-added products packaging and presentation, and transportation and storage facilities.
Salmonid exports from Chile
The last decade has seen revenue generated from salmon exports increase exponentially, exceeding US$500 million in 1996. Chilean products are sold primarily to Japan, the United States and Europe. Intra-regional markets are marginal in comparison to these.
Each market has specific requirements regarding the size and type of product. The Japanese market favours large rainbow trout and different presentations of frozen coho salmon (filleted or whole). The United States market prefers fresh Atlantic salmon, either as filleted products or whole. Finally, the major product for the European market is frozen Atlantic salmon, although limited quantities of coho salmon and large trout are also imported.
|As production and export volumes increased, many producers
invested in processing plants to make added-value products. Such products
include smoked fillets and canned steaks/cuts and provide product diversification
and access to higher revenue markets with lower price fluctuations.
Atlantic salmon, coho salmon and rainbow trout together have given an export volume of 98 percent of production during the last 10 years. In 1988, coho salmon led exports, surpassing rainbow trout, but by 1997, Chilean rainbow trout represented 27.5 percent (44 112 mt) of the total number of salmonids exported and 26.9 percent (US$180.3 million) of the total salmonid value. In 1997, Atlantic salmon lead the way with 40.4 percent (64 740 mt) in export tonnage and 43.9 percent (US$293.9 million) in export value.
The production of rainbow trout has gradually increased to a level similar
to that of coho salmon, this being due almost entirely to the rearing
of large-size trout in marine systems. Culture of this species in a marine
environment allows producers to reduce costs and increase the culture
area. In 1997, rainbow trout represented 29.7 percent (47 697 mt) of the
total volume and 26.8 percent (US$179.6 million) of the total value of
In the past few years, salmon prices have decreased world-wide, due to the sustained increases in production and problems in matching supply with demand. If markets accept increased supplies without increasing demand, then product prices will decline.
| This situation has had repercussions in the amounts of hard
currency obtained for export products.
During the past few years, there has been an increased trend to produce higher quantities of added-value products, resulting in a lower demand for traditional products such as frozen and fresh-chilled products. The provision of added-value products reflects a strategic business approach to attract more international customers and increase sales.
The value of Chilean salmon exports to other Latin America countries and the Caribbean has increased at an average annual rate of 50 percent, while the prices mirror the international market trends, dropping to US$5.60/kg in 1997. In 1995, Chile exported 3 965 mt, generating nearly US$20 million. The number of countries buying Chilean salmon increased from seven (1987) to sixteen (1997), where Brazil, Argentina and Mexico are the principal consumers.
Issues, challenges and opportunities for future development
In the past few years, a wide range of problems have affected the aquaculture industry in the region, including:
There are some unresolved issues relating to using estuaries for smolt production, but the establishment of new standards for aquaculture in estuaries was made by the national authorities in 1996, following an intermediate suspension in 1992. These standards stipulate the appropriateness of the resource for aquaculture, but exclude areas that are protected by government or allocated to alternative activities, such as tourism.
Aside from the increasingly competitive nature of the international salmon market, a United States producers group recently accused the Chilean salmon sector of dumping in the United States market.
|The United States imports some 30 percent of its salmon demand
from the region (mainly Atlantic salmon), and while this position has not
yet had a significant impact, it has encouraged producers to look for alternative
markets, reducing their dependence on the North American market.
Chile has made development plans to maintain, even surpass, its position as the second largest producer of salmon in the world, and an increase in authorized production units for salmon and fish culture will assist the attainment of this goal. The estimated current short-term projection for fish production alone is over 375 000 mt.
|This increase can be attributed partly to the demands for
sport fisheries (put and take). In order to support the strong
demand for cultured fish, cages, ponds and reservoirs are all used for production
purposes. Costa Rica has developed tilapia farming quickly and considerably,
primarily due to the adequacy of water resources. One site has access to
12 m3/second, enabling excellent production conditions. One company generates
35 percent of all tilapia produced in Costa Rica. In Colombia, fish farming
almost doubled between 1992 and 1997. Cachama culture increased significantly,
rising from almost nothing to nearly 12 000 mt within the decade, all of
which is sold in the domestic market. These fish are raised in intensive
conditions, usually in cages, and benefit from short growth cycles (150
days) and high stocking densities (120 kg/m3.) Tilapia production contributed
over 16 000 mt in 1997, mirroring regular and important increases. Total
freshwater production reached 37 000 mt in 1997 (including freshwater trout).
Fish farming in Mexico has also grown, albeit slowly, with increases noted for tilapia and carps, which are destined for the domestic market. In recent years, Mexico has increased significantly its fish culture activities in reservoirs and dams. In Venezuela, fish culture is developing where red tilapia and cachama production is starting to be significant, harvests increasing by six-fold between 1992 and 1997. In the Caribbean, fish farming is focused in three islands that provide 99 percent of production. Cuba is the biggest producer, cultivating nearly 44 000 mt in 1997. Tilapia and silver carp are the dominant species. In Cuba, a strong commitment has been made to develop semi-intensive and intensive pond culture of tilapia and carps for food security reasons. Growth rate of the sector may be expected to increase markedly. Jamaica has a long history of tilapia farming, but production growth has been slow, moving from 1500 to 2800 mt between 1988 and 1997. In all countries of the region, fish farming has provided employment for women, particularly in the postharvest and processing activities.
Enhanced fisheries in Cuba and Brazil have had a significant development.
Since the 1960s, Cuba has successfully developed the extensive culture
of several species of tilapia and carp in its big and small artificial
water bodies. Recently, hybrid Clarias (C. gariepinus x C. macrocephalus)
has been introduced and stocked in many of the reservoirs with very good
results. In the northeast of Brazil, an already traditional culture of
native species has been developed in its many small and medium reservoirs.
|Farming technology and farmers
In the region, fish farmers, can be categorized by production capacity and degree of technological advancement into three groups industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal. With respect to tilapia culture, industrial producers contribute some 20 to 25 percent of production, while semi-industrial producers provide 25 to 35 percent and the artisanal sector supplies 40 to 45 percent. For cachama production, about 70 percent comes from semi-industrial culture and 30 percent from artisanal activities. In Colombia, cachama and tilapia are farmed together in polyculture systems, but as mentioned earlier, a true analysis of the activity is difficult to obtain due to the lack of reliable data.
Businesses that were constituted for the exclusive purpose of large-scale fish culture are included within this title, and most are incorporated as share capital companies using local investors. These are characterized by using intensive production systems, high technology levels and the consequent high expenditure in infrastructure and operating costs. The production systems allow for large stock quantities, the use of prefabricated feeds with distribution systems and the use of high volumes of water. One of the main products within the region is the red tilapia, a term that covers a number of hybrid strains of tilapia having red skin colour. Currently, there is a trend to gradually increase stocking densities to improve production. Industrial farms vary in size from 0.5 to 10 ha, although some are even bigger, and have the capacity to produce large quantities of fish. Another industrial production system being used is that of floating cages. Reservoirs can provide an appropriate environment, facilitating fish-culture activities. The managerial structure is similar to other production sectors, generating employment positions in breeding, pond management and postharvest activities. Some industrial enterprises are exporting large quantities of their products. Finally, industrial aquaculture companies have better access to national and international credit, through local financial institutions, than the other production categories.
Semi-intensive culture systems
Semi-intensive culture systems are the usual choice for the semi-industrial producer group, which is also characterized by owner management. Technical direction and management advice is usually provided by outside specialists.
|Semi-industrial companies often produce in small ponds or
reservoirs designed for storing irrigation water. Although this part of
the fish-farming sector uses primary production techniques, productivity
is often increased through the use of prefabricated feeds. Production is
mainly sold for local consumption. A great majority of these fish-culture
systems are also integrated with other agricultural activities and cattle
farming, a situation that reduces the requirement for employees and nonqualified
labour. For the semi-industrial group, access to credit is subject to the
financial solidity of the operator/company.
Artisanal fish farming
Rural owner/operators compose the group of artisanal aquaculture producers, an activity where production is done in private or communal ponds. Extensive, small-scale culture systems are the only ones applied, using primary production techniques and agricultural by-products for feeds. The family is in charge of pond management and the culture of the fish, while technical advice is provided by governmental agencies, albeit infrequently. Products from this sector are consumed by the family and/or sold locally. Artisanal producers live at low economic, social and cultural levels, conditions that do not allow access to technology, information, markets or credit. This situation severely limits the artisanal producer from further development.
Commercialization and markets
Fresh fish markets have evolved considerably in the region, especially in respect of the red tilapia. Red tilapia experienced tremendous growth, stimulated by industrial investments in production in a number of countries. While there have been difficulties for aquaculture to respond to the fish size preferences of consumers, tastes and habits have changed gradually and demand for smaller sized fish has increased. This has been demonstrated in several countries (e.g. Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela), where there has been considerable demand for cachama and smaller tilapia sizes. In the domestic market, reports indicate that frozen fish (whole and fillets) has had the greatest increase, while fresh fish (notably red tilapia) is sold for export. While many countries markets have started to provide added-value products (e.g. smoked and canned fish), this is still in the initial stages of development Reports made in the early 1990s indicated that the demand for fish would grow considerably, resulting in a real increase of fish prices.
| It appears now that this demand grew more slowly than predicted,
a direct result of economic stagnation. During this time, fish has also
come under increasing competition from pork and poultry products.
Issues, challenges and opportunities for future development
The development of fish farming by small-scale companies in the region is very limited, due mainly to economic limitations. Commercial aquaculture faces environmental difficulties, notably from the introduction of exotic species, such as tilapia, that may adversely affect native populations and the natural environment. The intensification of fish stocks imposes the exchange of large volumes of water which, if highly charged with organic matter, can cause eutrophication and affect the aquatic ecosystem. In tilapia culture, it is important to maintain a high genetic quality within the stock and resistance to diseases. These are the key factors that adversely affect growth, harvest size and profitability. It is also important to control the movement of live species, reducing the risk of disease outbreaks, which can be damaging and expensive to eradicate. Factors that are required for the positive and progressive development of fish farming in the region are the following:
The production of carp has not increased in most of the region due to challenging environmental problems, while recent significant expansion has been reported in Cuba and in Brazil. Cachama production has also developed considerably in Colombia and Brazil, a development that was stimulated by studies conducted within the region (by Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, in this case) on the aquaculture of their native species. Important factors in cachama culture are the technology for fingerling production and the practices required for extensive and semi-intensive culture within monoculture or polyculture systems.
Chile is the main producer (69 percent) of molluscs in the region, harvesting 24 098 mt in 1997. Other mollusc-producing countries
|include Brazil (6 600 mt), Mexico (3 000 mt), Cuba (500 mt)
and Peru (320 mt), while nominal production exists in Jamaica, Costa Rica,
Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Turks and Caicos, and the Netherlands Antilles.
Scallops, including fan-shells (Pinna spp.) and vieiras (Argopecten and Chlamys spp.), belong to the Family Pectinidae, which contains approximately 350 species. Approximately 15 of these species have economic importance in international markets. In 1997, world-wide scallop culture produced 102 741 mt compared to 12 438 mt produced in the region, a figure that represents 12.1 percent of the global production and a value of US$61.8 million.
Scallop aquaculture in Chile
Two species of scallops are produced in Chile, Chlamys patagonica (in the south) and Argopecten purpuratus (in the north). The production of A. purpuratus is of the most economic significance to Chile. Historically, Chiles scallop production was a harvest activity, but due to pressure by the fishing industry, a mandate was imposed by the government in 1986 to restrict this activity. In 1980s, scallop culture (A. purpuratus) was introduced in Tongoy Bay. Soon after, Chile established new zones for the production of scallops, located in the cities of Inglesa, Salado and Chiloé (in the south).
The scallop industry in Chile has grown significantly in the past five years, in both production and exports. Currently 27 companies produce scallops, either by collecting seed from natural beds or by using seed produced from 11 hatcheries. Hatcheries are a key factor in the successful growth of this industry. There are approximately 5 500 active culture lines in northern Chile5. Due to interest from salmon producers, 121 permits have been allocated for the cultivation of scallops, but only 10 of these are producing scallops at present.
Farming technology and farmers
Scallop companies in Chile have diverse organizational levels based on capital investment and production capacity. Most have large concessions (more than 50 ha) and culture only A. purpuratus, the northern scallop. In northern Chile, the scallop companies have formed the Association of Scallop Producers of Chile, whose brief is to promote, develop and protect their activities and interests. In the past few years, capital investment has allowed a restructuring of the industry, focussing on vertical integration of the production stages, hatcheries and processing plants.
| The rapid growth of this sector has generated employment
estimated at over 3 000 jobs.
Commercialization and markets
Towards the end of the 1970s, the private sector increased its interest in scallop culture, due to the high values obtained in the international markets. This resulted in the establishment of pectinid farming in Chile, and scallop culture has become the third largest aquaculture activity in Chile after salmonids and seaweed. In 1997, Chile harvested 11 482 mt, placing it third in global scallop production after China (1 million mt) and Japan (254 000 mt). Chiles scallop farming has developed mainly in the north and is based on technology used in Japan involving various suspended systems. This technology has three production stages: i) collection of seed, ii) intermediate culture and iii) the fattening (growout) culture. In the past, Chiles seed production had been developed in a controlled environment, working with the production technology used for Japanese oyster seed.
Most operators monitor the sexual maturation period of scallops in culture
in order to determine the spawning period. This surveillance is supplemented
by plankton monitoring so as to quantify the larvae and determine the
optimum time to set out collectors. Scallop seed (for culture purposes)
is marketed at 3.5 to 20-30 mm, packed in polystyrene bags expanded by
a sponge and dampened with sea water or ice.
Scallop production offers many products for both domestic and international consumption. Live scallops are produced primarily for the domestic market. Fresh products are marketed (with or without the shell) for domestic and foreign markets, and frozen products are packed using Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) technology (vacuum-sealed polystyrene trays) for export (5-10 lb per package). Fresh product is marketed in 10-20, 20-30, 30-40 and 40-50 lb packs.
| Frozen product is marketed in 20-40, 40-60 and 60-80 lb packs.
Package weights are directly related to scallop market prices.
There are significant differences in consumer preferences within the different target export markets. For example, the Japanese market consumes the entire scallop (mantle, adductor muscle or corn and gonads or coral), the European market consumes only parts of the scallop (corn and coral), while the United States market consumes only the adductor muscle. In 1997, frozen scallops represented 81 percent of the total scallop export revenue, while fresh (19 percent) made up the bulk of the remainder. Canned and dried products combined represent less than 0.03 percent. Approximately 30 companies exported scallops in 1997, double the number reported in 1987.
Issues, challenges and opportunities for future development of scallop aquaculture in Chile
The Chilean General Law for Fisheries and Aquaculture allows the development of culture activities at the lower or bottom levels of the water column for growers who already have authorization to produce at shallower water depths. Many growers have made use of this law by designing enclosures/pens that reduce production costs and increase culture activities with low investment requirements.
France reported that they would change their rule that all scallops not belonging to the genus Pecten must be called petoncles. Petoncles is the name given to species of lower size and quality, reducing the sale price. Since 1996, Coquilles de Saint-Jacques is the official name used for Pecten maximus, the native great scallop on the French market.
There are about 200 oyster species in the family Ostreidae,
of which around 12 have economic importance. In Latin America and the
Caribbean, only Chile, Mexico, Cuba and Brazil devote significant production
effort towards oyster culture. In 1997, the total oyster production in
the region was just over 7 000 mt (with a value of nearly US$5.5 million)
compared to the 3.1 million mt produced globally.
|Oyster culture in Chile
In 1997, Chile was the primary producer of oysters in the region, with a production of 4 023 mt. Two species of oyster are cultured in Chile: Ostrea chilensis (the Chilean or native oyster) and Crassostrea gigas (the Pacific or Japanese oyster), which was introduced to South America in the late 1970s. Traditionally, the production of Chilean oysters was done by artisanal fisherman who harvested the product from natural oyster beds. Most fisheries were based out of the cities of Chiloé and Las Guaitecas in southern Chile and have been characterized by high variability in production. In Chile, Pacific oyster culture was started in Tongoy Bay and was made possible by development support from the Fundación Chile. The culture of Pacific oysters has now spread to other regions, and production has grown 4 000 percent between 1987 and 1997.
The oyster industry reported US$3.5 million in exports in 1997, against US$240 000 in 1987. This increase is mainly due to the sale of Pacific oysters, which represents 90.7 percent of total exports. In Chile, there are approximately 15 companies (in the north) dedicated to production of both native and Pacific oysters. Oyster culture does not require high levels of capital investment, and producers can combine the growout stage of oyster culture with that of other molluscs, such as mussels (choritos) and scallops. Unlike other aquaculture sectors, the oyster industry does not yet have producer associations that organize and address its needs and problems. In the same vein, not many companies have integrated their production processes and are still contracting support services, such as seed production, transportation, and plant and laboratory analysis.
The Chilean oyster is produced at two levels of operation, based on annual stocking - large (>1 000 000 oysters) and small (<1 000 000). Similarly, Japanese oyster production is classified at three levels of scale: large (>3 000 000), medium: (1 000 000 - 2 000 000), and small (<1 000 000). It is estimated that this sector generates some 600 full-time and 1 000 temporary positions yearly, ranging between 50 and 100 employees, depending on the scale of operation. Organizational structure is usually simple, where the owner manages the operational unit and usually participates in the production activities. Additional professionals assist with management and the coordination of operations, while field operators and divers (with specialized skills or training) assist with manual operations.
Commercialization and markets
The culture of the Chilean oyster started at the turn of the century, based mainly on the use of French technology. From 1940 to 1960, the state was involved in developing new technology designed for improved seed collection and growout technology that is still used today. The most commonly used seed collector is called the collar. Once larvae attach to this, the collar is hung vertically from a line or raft. When the seed reach approximately 10 mm, they are stripped from the collector for grow-out to market-size (>50 mm). Two methods are used for this step, suspension on long-lines (hung from rafts) or in trays placed on the sea floor. The start of Japanese oyster culture used Japanese technology, which employs hatchery systems for seed production followed by grow-out. Chile has five commercial hatcheries for this purpose, and the technology is similar to that for the production of other bivalves. This includes selection and conditioning of broodstock, spawning and fertilization, and larval and postlarval culture. The hatchery process lasts approximately 14 days, after which the oysters are settled on to collectors. These collectors are then used to hang the oysters for grow-out. Sales start when the oysters reach or exceed 90 mm in length. In the past few years, overall harvest-based oyster landings have declined world-wide. Therefore, oyster culture is a viable alternative to meet market demand, and culture now supplies almost 90 percent of the worlds production.
In international markets, oysters of the genus Crassostrea (mainly C. gigas and C. virginica) are the most widely sold. Oysters of the genus Ostrea (mainly O. edulis and O. chilensis) are also consumed, but in lower quantities. Oysters are marketed not only as a fresh product but also as frozen, canned and as a concentrated juice.
Between 1987 and 1997, exports of Chilean oysters grew exponentially from a value of US$171 000 to US$3.5 million, a position that is attributed mainly to the Pacific oyster, which represents more than 90 percent of the total oysters produced. Most companies sell directly to the end user, although some may operate through intermediaries for certain markets. All Chilean oysters are sold domestically, where live oysters command the greatest demand. Pacific oysters are also in high demand. Some companies sell Pacific oysters exclusively for export, while others supply both domestic and international (primarily Asia and Oceania) markets.
Issues, challenges and opportunities for future development of Chilean oyster culture
The Chilean oyster has characteristics that make it attractive to consumers in the European market. The European market includes a related species, the European oyster (O. edulis), but due to disease, harvests have been seriously depleted. This means that the Chilean oyster has marketing potential both in Europe and the United States (which also grows European oysters). Nonetheless market expansion for the Chilean oyster will require strong marketing efforts.
The Pacific oyster is cultured widely throughout the world and has experienced rapid growth. It is well-known and consumed in many different regions. In Chile, environmental factors restrict the natural spawning of this species. Consequently, further growth and development depend on obtaining stable seed supplies from hatcheries. Despite this, the Pacific oyster has good growth potential for Chile, where its biological characteristics allow culture activities to be made along two thirds of the coastline.
Mussels (Mytilidae) are found in both hemispheres throughout tropical
and subtropical regions and live in protected and exposed areas, as well
as subtidal and intertidal environments. The mussel industry has attained
significant importance in the international market, with production levels
reaching 1.4 million mt in 1997, representing an approximate value of
US$507 million. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the production of
mussels is limited when compared with world-wide production (1.4 percent),
reaching nearly 20 000 mt valued at US$20 million. In Latin America and
the Caribbean, 99 percent of mussel production is in Chile (9 084 mt;
58 percent) and Brazil (5 840 mt; 41 percent). The main products in the
region are the Chilean mussel or chorito (Mytilus chilensis),
which is produced primarily in Chile, and the South American brown or
rock mussel (Perna perna), which is the main product in Brazil. Their
combined value is approximately US$17.2 million.
Gracilaria spp. is the most common seaweed used for culture in the region, and Chile produces almost all that is reported. Two Chilean companies produce more than 99 percent of the 103 000 mt harvested. Peru and Venezuela produce very small quantities. In Chile, there are two species of Gracilaria, northern pelillo (G. lemanaeformis) and southern pelillo (G. chilensis). Their production is directly related to the demands of both domestic and international markets. The demand for pelillo is directly related to agar use in the international market (particularly in respect of Eastern Europe).
In 1997, global production provided 137 000 mt of Gracilaria spp., showing that regional production was responsible for 75 percent of supplies, worth US$41.2 million. Chiles dominance in this production means that detailed biological studies of this algae have been an integral part of the history of the development of the pelillo industry.
Gracilaria production in Chile
Chile began exporting Gracilaria in the 1960s, and production was based in the countrys middle and southern zones, where there are diverse harvesting grounds. In the 1970s, due to increased demand and high export prices, production of Gracilaria expanded into the north and, at a later stage developed further in southern Chile.
In 1982, the first production reports indicated harvests of 3 000 mt of seaweed. In the mid-1980s, the combination of the El Niño phenomenon and an increased capture effort caused a harvest collapse and the closure of extraction areas. This situation increased the interest in cultivating seaweed. During the 1990s, seaweed production increased significantly due to the development of cultivation, and Chile became the largest seaweed-producing country in the region, dominating production.
Farming technology and farmers
Chile has 380 Gracilaria production centres, managed primarily by private companies and unions. The unions include artisanal fishermen who produce and market their products within one group. The union associations in the south are the Federation of Seaweed Farmers Unions and Organisations of Chiloé and The Union of Artisanal Fishermen Directives of Chiloé.
Most companies own their production facilities or have marine concessions for processing activities. The artisanal fishermen and unions usually own a large number of concessions. Generally, companies are completely integrated, handling transportation services and seaweed processing plants that produce agar. The companies that are located in northern Chile process dry algae and handle export operations, while in southern Chile, algae are sold to agar processing companies. Neither the seaweed production companies nor the unions have professional associations that address their needs and concerns.
There are strict requirements concerning the quality of the raw materials used for processing and in order to improve the quality of Gracilaria production, training programmes have been implemented by the unions. Government programmes have started the development of training programmes for culture management, scuba diving and production.
There are many methods for the culture of Gracilaria, and most of these have been developed in Chile using direct, indirect and suspended processes. Suspended culture is done in intertidal and subtidal environments. Direct culture involves planting the algal holdfasts directly in the substratum or on the seabed. This is done by digging a furrow (using a hoe or pitchfork) and placing Gracilaria stems in the furrow. Indirect culture involves tying the algae to a man-made substrate that is placed on the ocean floor. The most commonly used substratum is called the chululo, which is made of a polyethylene sleeve filled with sand. Suspended culture involves tying algae to a matrix line which is suspended in the sea by wooden stakes. The algae grow on these lines until ready for harvest and sale. The unions have implemented a new process of inoculating the matrix line with spores, then tying on the algae and suspending it in the sea.
Commercialization and markets
The common or market names for Gracilaria spp. vary between countries and include orgonori, Chinese moss, sea string and pelillo. The main characteristic of this alga is that it can produce agar, which is a phycocolloid used in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, microbiological and paper industries.
|Algae are marketed as three product types - wet (90 percent
humidity), pre-dried (40-60 percent humidity) and dry (18-25 percent humidity).
The majority of wet or pre-dried alga is sold by unions through an intermediary
who, in turn, sells it to the processing plants. Private companies sell
the dry alga directly to the processing plants or export it to international
markets. In Chile, 100 percent of the wet alga and 80-90 percent of the
dry algal products are sold domestically, the remainder being sold internationally,
primarily to Japan, Taiwan Province of China and Korea. The majority of
production is thus for the domestic market.
Generally, algal production in Chile meets required industry standards for agar production, not only domestically but internationally. Furthermore, Chiles production of Gracilaria supports its home agar industry, which represents 33 percent of global production.
Continual price fluctuations are the main problem for stability in the Gracilaria sector. Small artisanal producers need to improve the promotion of their image to buyers, focusing on their recent technical progress, innovations, and managerial and negotiating skills. This statement notes that the plants built for the production of agar, colagar, carrageenans and alginates are using the most advanced technology available in the country.
|In respect of policies for aquaculture development in the
region, one can note a general trend for a decrease in direct state participation
and a shift towards providing an enabling environment. On the
other hand, there is a lack of appropriate and available financial instruments
for both the support and development of aquaculture, reflecting the regions
limited credit availability and high interest rates.
Rural aquaculture development is dependent on government support, and the allocation of scarce funds is based on the level of poverty in the rural community in question. As Latin America moves away from big government, rural aquaculturists need to find other alternatives to support sectoral development. Such alternatives include public and private joint ventures, new extension approaches, credit and market support for low-input aquaculture, and tax credits.
Small-scale and subsistence aquaculture producers have been greatly affected by decreased state participation. The combination of privatization, state budgetary reductions for investment, and reduced international cooperation programmes has made it difficult for these farmers to obtain the degree of technical assistance that is needed to support their production activities.
The region has a large number of aquatic species available for exploitation by aquaculture. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate consumer markets for fish species such as cachama, chame (Dormitator latifrons) and carp has restricted this development. Also, other candidate species have not been developed adequately, due to the need for further development and refinement of the technology required.
The countries in the region have identified six important objectives, which have resulted from aquaculture production in their areas. These objectives include:
Due to the social and economic situation in Latin America, aquaculture production enterprises have tended to focus on generating foreign exchange and employment as the main priorities, while agriculture development has addressed the problems of food security and decreasing poverty.
|Aquaculture has the capacity to meet these objectives for
regional countries. The production of shrimp and salmon has proved to be
a major success in contributing to foreign exchange earnings. In recent
years, the rate of growth of shrimp production has slowed down, while salmon
production has increased exponentially. Molluscs, primarily scallops and
oysters, and seaweed products (mainly Chilean) have also been exported from
the region. The rate of growth in mollusc culture has been constant due
to a strong demand by both international and local (mainly for mussels)
consumers. Growth in seaweed culture has been limited due to stagnant demand
within the agar market. The immediate potential for other species to contribute
to foreign exchange generation is limited.
Aquaculture serves a double role in employment generation. Not only does it provide direct and indirect job creation, it also achieves this in areas that have traditionally low employment. The potential for aquaculture to continue this employment contribution, especially in rural areas, will depend upon the governments participation in and assistance to aquaculture development in the region. This is particularly true for aquaculture activities that depend heavily on state economic involvement. The current trend away from state involvement may actually serve to constrain such development.
Aquaculture activities play an important role in reducing the rate of rural migration to urban city centres, a situation that creates over-crowding and social problems. The creation of opportunities for investment and increased employment in rural areas is a means of decreasing this phenomenon. While aquaculture has an important role to play in reducing such migration, it needs to be properly planned and implemented if it is to have any long-term impact.
The availability of land for the expansion of export-oriented aquaculture does not appear to be a problem within the region. For example, estimates indicate that only 16 percent of the available land area suitable for shrimp culture is currently under cultivation. However, the increased use of land for shrimp and salmon farming is likely to be subject to considerable environmental pressures and regulatory constraints. For example, the availability of suitable areas and government concessions for fingerling and smolt production could potentially limit the development of this sector in Chile.
|In recent years, diseases (particularly viral diseases) have
had a major impact on shrimp aquaculture, occurring principally in large
production areas that use low-intensity systems. This makes disease control
physically difficult, resulting in insufficient profitability. This situation
does not justify the significantly increased costs required for disease
prevention investments. Although salmon production has been less affected
by disease, the continued success of this sector will rely greatly on the
ability to keep the region free from diseases that currently affect salmon
Broodstock and seed supply have also represented a major constraint to production increases, not only in terms of availability, but also in terms of health management. Several major initiatives are underway to develop methods for the use of specific pathogen-free and high-health seed production. These strategies involve domestication, allowing the development of commercial breeding programmes for the establishment and maintenance of desirable traits.
The high demand for postlarvae has resulted in the development of a substantial intra-regional market for shrimp nauplii and postlarvae. This has taken place in the absence of effective regulations for governing transfer and health certification. The heavy impact of WSSV and the likelihood that its spread arose from these transfers has increased the demand for better regulation of such movements within the region.
Feed supply is one potentially limiting factor in the development of the regional aquaculture industry. For example, Artemia for postlarval shrimp production is sometimes simply not available. However, there are many Artemia-replacement products available commercially, and it is expected that their development by private companies, usually outside the region, will continue.
Growout feed production is dominated by a small number of companies.
The shrimp feeds used at present are relatively inexpensive and have a
low protein content when compared to the feeds used in Asia. This situation
may change, particularly if there is a trend towards intensification resulting
from concerns about health management and profitability of the low-density
systems. Increasing competition for animal feed protein requires the development
of more nutritious and digestible feeds, as well as a reduction in the
animal protein requirement.
|The environment has a substantial impact on aquaculture, particularly
in the regions coastal areas. Pollution resulting from agriculture
and urban activities, as well as being self-generated, has affected the
environment. Also, natural environmental disturbances represent a major
risk to aquaculture enterprises. The impact of the El Niño and La
Niña phenomena, along with hurricanes in Central American and Caribbean
countries, has caused devastation of aquaculture enterprises and state infrastructure.
Laws and regulations governing the environment and aquaculture in the region have often been complex and unmanageable. These need to be reviewed and simplified to make them more easy to implement and enforce.
Legal and institutional constraints exist regarding the development of export-oriented aquaculture in Latin America. Provisions for an enabling environment regarding aquaculture investment and expansion are not consistent throughout the region. The openness of regional economies to foreign investment and the profit repatriation also differs greatly between countries in the region.
An important role of the state will be to improve the efficiency of the sector through the development of information systems which will support farmers and investors.
Trade-related issues will have an important impact on the future prospects of the export sector. Producer competition and consumer demands will intensify as production increases. Trade agreements, both bilateral and multilateral, have played an increasingly important role in the international trade of aquaculture products. The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) agreement that exists between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile has stimulated trade, promoted fair competition, increased investment opportunities and protected and enforced intellectual property. On the other hand, trade agreements can also have a negative affect on aquaculture markets. An example of this has been the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the competitiveness of Chilean salmon compared to Canadian salmon.
|The cooperation of regional organizations such as the Western
Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC), the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean
States (OECS), the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM), La Comisión
Permanente del Pacífico Sur (CPPS) and the Organizacion Lationoamericana
de Desarrollo Pesquero (OLDEPESCA) combined with the external aid from programmes
(e.g. Italian and Spanish Co-operation, European Commission and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP)) will also have a positive impact on
the success of aquaculture development in the region.
Aquaculture production has demonstrated its capacity for providing great social and economic benefits for the countries in the region. The continued growth and development of aquaculture industries will play an important role in the future success and prosperity of each country in the region.
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1 [email protected]
2 Central and South American countries of the region: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guyana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
3 Caribbean countries of the region: Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and US Virgin Islands.
4 This section excludes freshwater trout farming, which is presented in the Salmonid section.
5 Source: Association of Scallop Producers of Chile.