The Chilean abalone or “loco” (Concholepas Concholepas) is one of the most exquisite seafood products of the Chilean coast, which has led to high demand and put stress on its population in the last decades. To preserve and exploit this precious marine resource in a sustainable manner, a group of fishermen from the Region of Coquimbo is implementing a project to develop technologies of controlled abalone reproduction and repopulation.
To this aim, the Federation of Inshore Fishermen and Seafood Divers from the Province of Choapa (Fepemach) received close to US$ 1 million from Corfo (Production Development Corporation) and Fundación Minera Los Pelambres. “This project will allow us to learn new management techniques and change from being fishermen into ocean farmers responsible for the process of abalone management”, stated Leonardo Ocares, president of Fepemach, upon receiving the resources.
The research work will be carried out by the Universidad de Los Lagos, an institution that will experiment with aquicultural formulas for the species and then transfer the techniques to the fishermen. “Our mission is repopulation, to increase the number of individuals in their natural environment”, explains researcher Roberto Flores Aguilar. “To this end we’ll work with examples of adult abalone from the region of Chiloé, which we’ll place in quarantine in order to monitor their sanitary conditions prior to planting them in the ocean and observing their behavior.”
In addition to this being a unique initiative –addressing the sustainable exploitation of abalone–, the project is also special in the sense that it represents a collaboration between inshore fishermen, a university, Corfo and a private organization. Manuel Farías, manager of Fundación Minera Los Pelambres, maintains that it is crucial to preserve the resources of the area. “That is why we joined the effort and provided technical and financial support”, he added.