Intensive abalone farming – specifically of the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) and the green (or Japanese) abalone (Haliotis discus hannai) – has expanded rapidly in Chile since the late 1990s, and this article presents an overview of the challenges facing the industry and the factors which favour its development.
At present, 100% of Chile’s abalone enterprises farm the H. rufescens species, owing to its suitability for full-cycle culture. In the analysis of factors that facilitate the development of abalone farming in Chile, those that stand out include the characteristics of the aquatic ecosystem, existing entrepreneurial and professional skills, decisive government support in co-financing scientific and technological projects, infrastructure and associated services to support these development initiatives and a market where prices have remained stable and demand for abalone products has been steady. The greatest challenges facing intensive abalone farming in Chile are providing a constant supply of macroalgae for abalone feed and developing complementary feed, as well as updating current legislation on intensive abalone farming, strengthening producer associations and establishing health certification. The article discusses examples of the impact that native organisms can have on animals introduced into an aquatic ecosystem and the international transmission of agents such as withering syndrome and sabellid polychaete infestation disease, associated with the movement of abalone seeds and broodstock. The article also emphasises the importance of implementing the recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health.