Feasibility of aquaculture cultivation of elkhorn sea moss (Kappaphycus alvarezii) in a horizontal long line in the Tropical Eastern Pacific

Resumen: Seaweed aquaculture has become a profitable and an attractive alternative of cultivation thanks to its quick biomass production for food, feed, and other non-food applications. In addition, the ecosystem services generated by seaweed cultivation towards carbon fixation represents a more sustainable solution to the ocean’s acidification. The growth of elkhorn sea moss (Kappaphycus alvarezii) was evaluated in three plots with 200 propagules during a period of 70 days in a floating raft system covered by a fishing net underneath. Initial weight of propagules was 159.3 ± 12.74 g in wet biomass and 15.3 ± 1.43 g in dry biomass and were sampled up to 19 days (in the lag growth phase; period I), up to 33 days (in the exponential growth phase; period II) and up to 70 days (in the stationarity growth phase; period III). The variations of sea surface water temperature, salinity, turbidity (Secchi depth), total ammonium, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphate were determined. The growth increase was more evident in the exponential phase II when a dry biomass of 28.0 ± 2.48 (1153.3 ± 6.25 g in wet mass) was reached, more than 7 times the biomass of propagules with an average daily growth rate of 15.2% g.day–1. The carrying capacity of the zone was estimated at 86.2% in the area where 53 cultivation units would be projected. The economic analysis presented a financial feasibility with a net profit of 19% over the projected income and an IRR of 16.5%, recovering the investment in an estimated period of 4.3 years. We recommend to continue with larger-scale studies to optimize the cultivation of K. alvarezii in the study area.

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