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Cultivated plants of Gracilaria chilensis. (Photo: Robert Anderson/algaebase.org)

Seaweed restocking project shows encouraging progress

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Thursday, April 06, 2017, 02:50 (GMT + 9)

The project for Gracilaria seaweeds (Gracilaria chilensis) restocking in Mejillones del Sur is already bearing fruit, and currently exceeds three hectares of algal cover, informed the regional director of fisheries and aquaculture in regions XV, I and II, Marco Soto.

The Zonal Fisheries Division has been working with the Algas Rojas Union for more than two years in this initiative, which was authorized by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) and financed in its first stage by the Association of Industrialists.

This alternative "not only contemplates diversification as a relevant issue, generating labour source for divers and fishermen in Mejillones, it is also an environmental alternative given the bioremediating characteristics that the algal resource offers," Soto said.

During a recent visit to the Bay of Mejillones, "the restocking progress was observed, which has already exceeded three hectares, and was the result of the work performed by the members of the Seaweed Workers Union and the other four unions in Mejillones," said the official. In addition, he stressed that this sustainable project and one that offers productive diversification has promoted the growth and development of the artisanal fishing sector in the area.

Thanks to the 2017 Regional Contest, an agreement between the Regional Government of Antofagasta and the UnderSecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture, under the approval of the Technical Committee, Seaweeds Worker Union will receive funding for the second stage (CLP 70 million/USD 105,000). The first step will be to transform and consolidate the bay of Mejillones into a large seaweed meadow.

At the moment, efforts are being made to advance the reproduction in a controlled environment of this species in order to obtain first generation seaweed and to continue with the repopulation. Afterwards, farming will start in management areas to finally establish a management plan for the resource.

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