Carrageenan, a product used in the food and cosmetics industries, is extracted from Kappaphycus alvarezii algae. Photo courtesy reports that in Ecuador fishermen’s organizations are benefitting from the Mariculture and Aquaculture Project for Aquaculture Development. This macroalgae farming project, implemented by the National Government through the Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAP), aims to manage new production alternatives for Ecuadorian artisanal fishermen.

A cooperative of 96 members in the province of Santa Elena actively participates in the experimental cultivation of marine macroalgae (Kappaphycus alvarezii) in order to obtain raw material for carrageenan production.

“From the land, we are monitoring algae farming evolution so that, in the future, we can replicate it in places on the Ecuadorian coast that have the necessary conditions to carry this out and other projects that generate greater income for artisanal fishermen,” said Maria Emilia Cevallos, director of Aquaculture Policy and Management.

Miguel Macías Mendoza, president of the Santa Rosa Artisanal Fishing Production Cooperative, said that as an organization they are happy to have been taken into account for the development of this management. “The fishery resources of the sea are being exhausted and we have looked for alternatives that can support the fishing sector and our families over time. We are motivated because we have the support of the authorities in charge of our interests,” he said.

The farming work is carried out by means of floating long line systems, composed of 20 cells of 3 x 5 meters, where the macroalgae are suspended for 45 days. Then they are harvested and stored, after which they are placed in solar dryers on land — made from bamboo cane — for three or four days, until reaching 15 per cent humidity. Finally, the algae are stored in labelled bags.

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