Pilot test to grow algae using nutrients from a fish farm in the Bay of Roses (Girona). The "first sowing" of sea lettuce was carried out this Friday and consisted of placing one hundred meters of ropes in four 25-meter replicas in the aquaculture facilities of the fishermen's association.
The objective of this pilot plan is to check if, taking advantage of the nutrients generated by species such as sea bass or sea bream, it is viable to cultivate algae in the Mediterranean, an oligotrophic sea.
The first results will arrive within two months and, if they are successful, the goal is to increase the number of meters to launch the commercialization of sea lettuce next year.
The environmental technician of Algas de Roses, Mariona Alabau, has stressed that it is a pioneering project because, although the cultivation of algae associated with mussels has been tested in other places, up to now it has not been tried to grow them in fish farms so that they take advantage of the nutrients given off by fish such as sea bass or sea bream.
Alabau I have explained that the Mediterranean Sea has a very low nutrient load and that this makes it difficult for algae to grow: "One way to ensure the culture is to associate it with other fish cultures." The pilot shot begins with the laying of one hundred meters of rope inseminated with sea lettuce. The cultivation, in addition, is five meters deep and extends in different orientations and gradations. All this will serve to see, within two months, what are the optimal conditions for the sea lettuce to grow.
"If the results turn out well, we will know in what current and at what depth we can cultivate this species and, for next year, expand production and test with 1,000 or 1,500 meters of rope," the environmental technician specified. From here, the commercialization would begin next year and they could even consider introducing other species.
The president of the Rosas Fishermen's Guild, Toni Abad, explained that the project fits perfectly with one of the objectives of the fishermen in the area, which is to look for "other lines of business because fishing is as it is".
"And if we're lucky, we can have some seaweed with a designation of origin from the Bay of Roses, which wouldn't be bad at all," he specified. Thus, for marketing they would take advantage of entering the distribution system of the brotherhood. The project plans to focus the first sales on human consumption, but not stop exploring other ways such as alternative protein to gain food sovereignty.
To inseminate the ropes, the fishermen from Roses have had the support of Javier Cremades, a professor at the University of A Coruña, who has accumulated experience in the cultivation of algae, a more widespread practice in the Atlantic. "In Europe, aquaculture is practically restricted to fish and molluscs and we have this pending task," Cremades specified. To measure the meters of rope he has used sea lettuce seed from the area.
The pilot plan has a cost of 20,000 euros, 50% subsidized by the Local Fisheries Action Group (GALP).