Sole, turbot farming gains momentum in Spain

A joint initiative by Epic Aqua Cádiz and Fortuna Blue will see the construction of a sole and turbot hatchery in Cádiz, Spain, next year. The project, which will take up 44,000 square meters of land, is awaiting approval from Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The facility will perform the full growth cycle of both species from the production of fry through the fish reaching market size. The three-part building includes the hatchery, nursery and fattening units.

“The productive capacity of the hatchery for the first phase is two million juveniles per year, which is of medium size to produce 450 metric tons of turbot over 2 kilograms,” said Patricio Urrutia, aquaculture engineer at Epic Aqua Cádiz. The remaining capacity will be used to produce juvenile sole.

“Turbot has a strategic role here with minor technical uncertainties; it is a species with more mainstream use and it has a good market which would allow us to work smoothly,” added Urrutia.

The company’s goal is to produce sole in various stages. “We expect to reach between 3,300 and 3,600 [metric] tons of sole and turbot, but this production is mainly comprised of sole,” said Urrutia. To achieve this, the Cádiz Port Authority has agreed to reserve 120,000 square meters of land for future expansion.

Urrutia explained that the farm will use a method rarely implemented among Spanish fish farmers — a recirculation system, which allows for the reuse of seawater in tanks through a cleaning device and enrichment. This allows constant water parameters to be maintained (temperature, oxygen levels and turbidity, or fluid cloudiness), contributing to increased production of the fish.

Finance is still being sought for the EUR 12.5 million (USD 17 million) project. “Although the economic environment is complex, we continue working hard to close the financing of the project,” said Urrutia. “We believe that our initiative represents one of the strategic areas that should be developed as a priority in Andalucia. On this basis we expect to obtain the corresponding institutional financial support for this initiative.”

Calling on domestic investors, Urrutia said, “This is something unusual. A project of this magnitude should be supported by Spanish entrepreneurs. Spain should become a major aquaculture source because it has a sound scientific basis and is full of resources.”
So far, all of the investors are foreign companies, including the project’s technology partner, Norway’s Akva Group, which has signed an exclusive 10-year agreement to implement the project.

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