The University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas presented this week its first experience with flat fish and the encouraging results of the Atlantic halibut pilot farming project.
Researchers and businessmen related to fish farming were invited to assess the results of the Magallanes Region Atlantic Halibut Production Project that was started in 1997 and has a great potential for the European market.
"We are now prepared to transfer the production technology to the private sector and so open another option for the Chilean fish farming industry", said Pablo Gallardo, responsible for the halibut project in Bahía Laredo.
The project was begun importing full grown halibuts from Canada and by 2002 the first "Chilean" juvenile species were obtained, "with a comparatively quicker growing rate".
However Marco Godoy who is responsible for water pathology and environment impact was more cautious. "The halibut technology is relatively new, it needs huge investments and five years must elapse before we can talk of conclusive results", said Mr. Godoy.
An initial investment could demand almost a million US dollars since the slow growing halibut needs three years before the first crop is ready for commercializing.
The white fleshed, firm halibut filets sell between 10 and 12 US dollars a kilo in Europe.
In the Bahía Laredo project the first crop was of 800 kilos equivalent to 460 kilos of filleting, with a performance rate close to 56%.
Norway, Iceland, Scotland and Canada are the leading halibut farming countries with basically two different production processes: relatively small pools and the cage capital intensive system similar to the salmon industry.