Opportunities and challenges for the development of an integrated seaweed-based aquaculture activity in Chile: determining the physiological capabilities of Macrocystis and Gracilaria as biofilters
In Chile the integration of Gracilaria chilensis with salmon culture has shown high potential. Seaweed integrated aquaculture is of great interest as it allows waste recycling within fed cage aquaculture. The development of economically feasible suspended methods of seaweed cultivation is therefore of high importance. Hence, production and performance of two suspended Gracilaria cultivation methods, spore inoculated ropes and ropes with twined field collected seaweed, were studied in open water. The production from spore-seeded ropes was comparable to that of twined ropes for the first month of culture. Thereafter, the twined ropes had a significantly higher productivity. Fish farm wastes had no significant fertilizing effect upon Gracilaria growth rate. In addition, spore-originated thalli and field collected thalli were compared under laboratory conditions and in suspended culture using the same cultivation method. Spore-originated thalli had a 50% lower growth rate than the field collected thalli under laboratory conditions; however, no significant differences were detected in the field. Also, the occurrence of spore coalescence growth enhancement was not significant on the spore-seeded ropes. It was concluded that spore-originated cultivation techniques could be of interest for an integrated open seawater aquaculture system due to the high levels of Gracilaria polymorphism. This would result in greater adaptability to environmental variations, and a continuous supply of restocking material.