1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Establish an experimental aquaculture facility in the Azores, with an initial focus on abalone production. The long term goal of this research center will be to develop knowledge and technology for other potential aquaculture species. This is supported under the Azores Cooperative Initiatives Program (ACIP), as jointly decided in May 2003 by the ACIP Technical Working Group held by the United States Government and the Regional Government of the Azores. ACIP, or rather the requirement to engage in cooperative initiatives with the Azores, Portugal, is mandated in the 1995 US-Portugal Agreement on Cooperation and Defense and further defined in the Final Minute to that agreement. ACIP was created and has been implemented through Department of Defense (DOD) financial resources and relationships with civilian federal agencies and other non-governmental institutions as part of the U.S Government’s commitment to the agreement. DOD has requested and funded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) to serve as the lead civilian agency and facilitator for ACIP.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Recent worries about the fishing and wild resources sustainability have re-launched the discussion around the potential of aquaculture in the Region, as a way of generating economical and social development, and as a productive activity complementing the traditional fisheries. The recent workshop on “Developing a Sustainable Aquaculture Industry in the Azores” (Horta – June 2008) has contributed to this discussion and with few constrains, received support from social (Azorean fishermen organizations/associations and some local business people wanting to start the activity), political (both local and regional) and institutional (IMAR/DOP-UAç) organizations. In order to attain the objective mentioned above, the IMAR PI and scientific staff will take the following steps from September 2008- Sep 2010: a) By March/April of 2009 the laboratory will be planned/designed involving technical consultancy. The plan will be presented to appropriate Regional authorities and U.S. cooperators for technical advice. The PI will seek to raise the needed funds for its implementation. b) By April/July 2009 a small workshop on the aquaculture of grazing invertebrates (abalone, sea urchins, queen conch etc…) will be organized with the aim of transferring knowledge and technology on local species. c) By December 2009, scientific visits for training of two IMAR researchers (three to six month duration) in leading aquaculture laboratories will be conducted. By early 2010 the laboratory should be functioning with a first pilot experiment on local abalone (Haliotis tuberculata).
3. Progress Report
This report serves to document activities under a specific cooperative agreement between ARS and the University of Azores, Department of Oceans and Fisheries under the Azores Cooperative Initiatives Program (ACIP). Progress on the project was reported via email communications between the ADODR and Principal Investigator. Imar started a dialog with the city Mayor and the Regional Directorate of the Sea (DRP – SRAM) in July 2009 to raise funds to upgrade existing facilities for use as an aquaculture research center. By June 2010 IMAR was assured of some support and commitment for the project. Vacancy of the building is expected to occur by the fall of 2010. Dialogue continues and a small commission involving local and regional authorities will be formed byOctober 2010 to continue discussions on project implementation. In January 2010, IMAR received a grant from the Regional Directorate of Science and Technology to supporting a new researcher who joined the team in March 2010; she is developing research on the biology of local abalone (Haliotis tuberculata). This research being developed with the active cooperation of a private investor from Pico Island interested in abalone aquaculture. In September 2009, following contact established during the 7th International Abalone Symposium (IAS 2009) with Geoffrey Robinson (from Irish Sea Fisheries Board), the IMAR PI visited a private Abalone aquaculture production unit located at Rosaveal (Ireland – Cindy O´Brien aquaculture production unit). In October 2009, two IMAR researchers attended two workshops on aquaculture in the USA. These events were held at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University: Fish Culture Techniques (19-21 October) and Recirculating Aquaculture Systems: Design, Engineering and Operation (22-24 October). Since December 2009 IMAR has been collaborating with a private enterprise from Faial Island (Sea-Expert) in order to culture two species of sea urchins (Sphaerechinus granularis and Paracentrotus lividus). In April 2010 IMAR submitted a project to the Regional Government of the Azores to finance further research. This project proposes the adaptation of a small fraction of the old DOP’s building to a small facility with small tanks and systems for sea-water quality and temperature control. This small system was designed with the cooperation of the Lisbon Oceanarium. This Agreement supported the travels of the PI and of an IMAR researcher to Lisbon to consult on the development of this proposal. IMAR is also engaged in the Under the European Aquaculture Society’s EAS2010- Seafarming Tomorrow Conference, which is focused on island Aquaculture systems. This conference will take place on October 2010 in Porto, Portugal. Thanks to the support of the Azores Cooperative Initiatives Program and the funding provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, there has been substantial progress made towards establishing an aquaculture research center in the Azores that can help provide new economic opportunities for Azorean residents.