Innovation for the Improvement of Productivity and National Aquaculture Strategy
The Department of Fisheries and Technological Innovation of the Department of the Sea of the Galician Regional Government officially recognized the OPP89 Carril Shellfish Growers (OPP89 Parquistas de Carril) as an Association of Fish Producers (OPP) in 2021.
Ever since, the OPP has demonstrated an interest in many initiatives’ development, particularly those that support environmental sustainability and the promotion of its products. The organization actively participates in the following significant initiatives in this sector:
2022 INNOVATION PROJECTS
Identification and Registration of Predators and Invasive Species Affecting the Production of the Carril Shellfish Growing Farms
Through this initiative, OPP89 seeks to promote sustainable aquaculture activities. Thanks to the work experience and dedication of the Carril Shellfish Growers, today, we recognize and know numerous marine species from many animal classification groups with a feeding diet based on bivalve mollusks, not only adults but also in their early stages of development. It is imperative to pay attention to this critical issue, given the significance of these predatory species in the outcomes of bivalve culture production. As a result, the Carril Growers intend to seek potential solutions that would enable them to reduce these impacts. Additionally, we should consider that these predators have the potential to harm the environment by reducing the bivalve population, altering the habitat, and contaminating genetic material.
The integration of the Spanish Technological Platform for Fisheries and Aquaculture (PTEPA)
The OPP89 has been included in the Spanish Technological Platform for Fisheries and Aquaculture (PTEPA) since April 2022. With this integration, Carril Shellfish Growers intend to be involved in the development of national strategic projects and actively contribute to the development of the new national aquaculture plan for the years 2021–2030 since the strategic directions of the new national aquaculture plan are proposed by the Spanish Platform, with the contributions of all of its associates.
Definition of Essential Parameters to Demonstrate the Natural and Sustainable Feeding Patterns of the Carril Clam
The Carril Shellfish Growers Organization is conducting a study into these initiatives to ensure that the origin of the fishing products used as food in aquaculture come from sustainably managed fisheries. This initiative seeks to establish the critical factors to consider in order to demonstrate, in subsequent actions, that the use of the Carril bivalve products is natural and sustainable.
This way, they try to lay the groundwork to take into account the viability of the feeding habits of their bivalve products, including in their analysis the following works:
- Define the objectives and tools of analysis (scope by type of species, working documents, among others).
- Conduct a survey to all members of OPP about the feeding diet of the Carril bivalve products according to zones.
- Conclude on the feeding habits of the various types of bivalves by areas of study and the key parameters to consider in studies to demonstrate the differential feeding diet of the Carril species.
- Begin the process to ensure that bivalve products, especially the Carril clam, are fed naturally, without any food input, making it as sustainable as possible within the aquaculture sector.
2023 INNOVATION PROJECTS
Identifying the Growth Phase at which Predators Have an Impact on Carril Shellfish Growing Fields Productivity
The presence of these predatory and invasive species dramatically affects the aquaculture production of the growing areas due to their nature and territorial uniqueness and, of course, their dependence on the natural environment. They cause damage to the shellfish growing farms by reducing the population of the diverse bivalve species at different stages of their development.
Given this situation, it is essential to have a workable protocol to identify the various predators’ behavior stages to create and develop a program for their protection and prevention within shellfish growing farms. This protocol would minimize the detrimental influence on the production of shellfish farms while enabling achieving the goal of encouraging sustainable aquaculture activities.
This action is a continuation of the procedure launched in 2022 to address the two following issues:
- The security and profitability of the investment made in the shellfish growing parks, considering that its allocation is mostly in materials and seed, and a significant part of this capital can be lost by the predators’ action.
- The preservation of the environmental balance and marine biodiversity of the area at the location of the marine culture and the specific characteristics of the species/s to be grown.
Participation in the Spanish Technological Platform for Fisheries and Aquaculture (PTEPA)
After joining this Spanish Platform and verifying that the operations of its members follow the nation’s strategic goals, the Carril Shellfish Growers aim to contribute actively and effectively to the new national aquaculture plan’s development for 2021–2023. Similarly, we can expect proposals for the strategic axes of the new National Aquaculture Plan. Additionally, the development of this measure has made it possible to achieve the objectives of promoting sustainable aquaculture activities by allowing effective participation in various organizations working in the aquaculture sector at national, regional, European, and international levels, as is the case with the Spanish Technological Platform for Fisheries and Aquaculture (PTEPA).
Measurement of the Key Parameters for the Demonstration of Natural and Sustainable Feeding Habits of the Carril Clam
Another of the organization’s objectives is the development of initiatives to ensure that fishery products destined for aquaculture feed come from sustainably managed fisheries. In this regard, the goal is to go deeper with a protocol development that enables future activities to demonstrate that the feeding of the Carril bivalve products is natural and sustainable. Therefore, to achieve this goal, they will conduct measurements of the water’s pH, temperature, and salinity at various locations of the shellfish farms. Likewise, they will study the presence of macroalgae in different cultivation areas to establish the relationship with the growth of mollusks on such farms.
On top of that, they plan the development of a traceability protocol applying an elemental shell analysis. They will adjust the analysis method by conducting a preliminary pilot test. These actions will contribute to implementing a tool to trace the origin of the bivalves geographically located in Carril, specifically the clam.
Center of Bivalve Mollusks Classification
A dedicated center will be established to improve product marketing through appropriate bivalve mollusk classification and selection. In this regard, the OPP89 has assigned a classification space that improves product marketing procedures and could certainly, now and in the future, contribute to better certification of bivalve products.
Currently, products from aquaculture activities, such as shellfish farms, can be sold for the first time in fish markets and other authorized establishments. This center provides shelter for the activities related to this first sale, such as product classification, issuance of associated documentation, and preceptive traceability information. Until the creation of this center, each shellfish growing farm’s owner performed this activity independently, with all of the heterogeneity that this activity implies.
The OPP89 recognize that classifying aquaculture products is essential in marketing fishery products and ought to be included by the marketing improvement plan. Therefore, this project’s goal is to establish initiatives so that the OPP89 members can improve the products’ classification and, consequently, their marketing.
Accordingly, the bivalves would be transported from the growing farms to a facility where they would be sorted using specialized equipment and stored employing loading and unloading machinery. This type of sorting or classification center, equipped with the necessary services and tools, would improve the selection and consistency of the final product batches, preventing mistakes that would result in mixing mollusks of different sizes and/or species.
Creation of a Versatile Promotion Center for Carril Growers and Their Products
Another action planned by the organization seeks to launch a multifunctional promotional center for the Carril shellfish growers and their products. Therefore, the plan for 2023 is to prepare and implement campaigns to promote aquaculture products from various perspectives.
In light of this, and considering that Vilagarcía lacks a public or private facility of this kind, it is essential to provide the organization with a designated area for the distribution and promotion of the products produced by the OPP. This center will act as a resource center for bivalves’ presentations and recognition while fusing the product with a cultural and touristic perspective that will increase awareness of and support for the work developed by the Shellfish Growers.
Thus, the proposed plan is to create this type of promotion center, considering the dock of O Ramal as the most likely location, where they can develop interpretative and informative activities about the culture and the work itself, together with other awareness and education activities. The general public and potential consumers or buyers will be the target audience for these activities. The projects and initiatives have the potential to transform this space into a center for tourism and bivalve product marketing.