The seminar, entitled The potential for wetland aquaculture; balancing economic development and conservation benefits, focused on the potential benefits of implementing wetland aquaculture in the Gulf of Cadiz region, and attracted more than 50 stakeholders from Spain, Portugal and the United States.
The morning session included two sets of presentations, where the project partners explained their main findings relating to wetlands aquaculture, including the benefits of integrated multitrophic aquaculture systems and the ecosystem services wetlands aquaculture can offer to society. The presentations are downloadable from the project website (www.seafareproject.eu). Following the morning session, a round table discussion took place in which environmental managers, aquaculture industry representatives and scientists had the opportunity to present their own views on the potential of wetlands aquaculture in the Gulf of Cadiz region.
Antonio Concepción, president of the Aquaculture Business Association in Andalucía, said: "There is no doubt wetlands aquaculture is beneficial for the region in terms of economic activity, employment generation, and also environmentally, as it is proven that wetlands aquaculture can contribute to the regeneration of abandoned landscapes. However, we should take into account that production costs are higher than off-shore aquaculture, but the fish produced in wetland systems are of better quality than those produced in offshore aquaculture. These factors make the product more expensive and it is more difficult to find our place in the market. It is not all about wetland aquaculture benefits, we must put an extra effort into the creation of a new brand and find new commercialisation channels".
The afternoon session included a visit to the facilities of Veta la Palma, an aquaculture farm located on an island in the Guadalquivir River, ten miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Veta la Palma provides a good example of how aquaculture can be used as a driver for wetland reconstruction. The attendees had the opportunity to see for themselves how beneficial the implementation of wetlands aquaculture in the region can be from both economic and ecological perspectives.
Dr Pedro Cañavate, researcher at IFAPA El Toruño and one of the organisers of the seminar, said: "I hope this seminar will help to make stakeholders from the region aware of the real potential of wetlands aquaculture for the region. This meeting aimed to show stakeholders that we have the optimal conditions to develop wetlands aquaculture, and we also have the know-how to do it. Now it is up to policy makers and industry to take the initiative".
The SEAFARE project aims to promote the diversification of the aquaculture industry by providing a greater range of species and alternative environmentally-friendly production systems. All the initiatives developed by the project are assessed for their commercial applicability through close collaboration with stakeholders and SMEs. The project involves 14 partners, bringing together applied R&D centres, aquaculture industry organisations and environmental agencies across the Atlantic maritime region to promote the sustainable expansion of European aquaculture.