Diversification of Chilean aquaculture: the case of the giant barnacle Austromegabalanus psittacus (Molina, 1782)
Evidence is presented supporting the technical and economic possibilities of giant barnacle Austromegabalanuspsittacus (Molina, 1782) culture, one of the main alternatives for diversifying aquaculture in Chile. Spat collection from the wild varied between different sites in the north and south of the country and according to type of artificial collector. Growth also varied between sites (greater in the north), technological systems (greater in tubular systems) and depths (greater at 4 m). Average commercial size in the national market was reached over a period between 18 and 24 months. A long-line can produce between 7 to 10 gross ton during this period, therefore average annual fisheries production can be reached with only 10 to 30 long-lines, in an area of 1 to 3 ha. There is demand for this resource in the external market, particularly in the Japanese market, either as product similar to "fujit subo" (Balanus rostratus), or as a new resource; the relationship between production costs and price determines that giant barnacle culture has commercial potential. Economic indicators for cultured giant barnacle were as follows: net present value (NPV): US$ 490,000; internal rate of return (IRR): 32%; discounted payback period (DPBP): 4 years. Results obtained suggest the natural bank repopulation option, and the development of mass cultures. Giant barnacle culture is based on biological characteristics that differentiate it from other crustaceans species, as well as simple and economic production technologies and favourable economic projections on external markets.