Economic analysis of loco abalone (Concholepas concholepas) commercial cultivation in Chile
Loco abalone (Concholepas concholepas, Bruguière, 1789) represents the most important gastropod fishery from the central coast of Perú down to the southernmost part of Chile. International prices are attractive enough to motivate the development of an important body of research to bring the catch to commercial size under controlled conditions. In this study, we analyze whether the fattening of loco from the seed stage (between 2 and 3 cm of peristomal length) up to commercial size is economically attractive for a private investor. The results of this model, composed by biological, technological and economic submodels, shows that under current conditions cultivation is not convenient Net Present Value (NPV) = -198,179 US$ on t = 1,400, the day where the maximum biomass is reached). The negative result is explained by the high operational costs (mainly wages) and high initial investments requirements (mainly plastic boxes to house the C. concholepas). Interestingly, the model shows that feeding costs are comparatively low. At t = 1400, the accumulated disbursements for investments (US$92,209) are lower than those for the operating costs (US$299,486) and represent only 24% of the total accumulated disbursements. The latter shows that the project is not profitable due to the high operating costs other than the feed. The sensitivity analysis shows that would be required a 30- fold increase in the current biomass selling price for a positive NPV. In the future, this project would benefit if more efficient forms of production are developed, especially reducing the burden due to workers' compensation.