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
Progress on the project was reported via email communications between the ADODR and Principal Investigator. Over the period covered by this report, dialogue has proceeded with the city Mayor and the Regional Directorate of the Sea (DRP – SRAM) towards the development of a small experimental research aquaculture facility at the old DOP building located near the harbor. However, the national and regional economic and political situation have not been favorable for public investments consequently interest has slowed down. On May 2011, a research project previously submitted to the Regional Government for barnacle aquaculture contemplating the development of a small land-based research facility was approved. The conceptual plan was re-analyzed and the initial work of adaptation of the DOP building started on June 2011. Aligned with the general objectives of the project, the PI and the IMAR researcher Christopher Pham attended the “EAS2010- Seafarming Tomorrow conference”, held in Porto, Portugal, on October 5-8, 2010. The PI was chairman of the PS 08 (Aquaculture on Islands) and Christopher Pham presented a communication entitled “An overview of the research on barnacle aquaculture in the Azores”. In addition, since June 2010, research on the biology of the local abalone (Haliotis tuberculata) has been developed with the support of the Regional Directorate of Science and the cooperation of a private investor from Pico Island. Results of this study are expected to publish by the end of 2011. Further cooperation has been developed with SeaExpert, a private enterprise from Faial Island, on sea urchins and barnacles aquaculture. 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.