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COMMUNITY
1/2/21
COMMUNITY
1/2/21
Don't Clam Up

By Phil Egginton

A pioneering shellfish aquaculture company is building a sustainable
103-hectare clam farm off Alvor. It is a world-first and will allow up to
600 tonnes of clams to be grown and nearly 100 tonnes of CO2
to be captured sustainably per year.




Don't Clam Up

By Phil Egginton

A pioneering shellfish aquaculture company is building a sustainable 103-hectare clam farm off Alvor. It is a world-first and will allow up to 600 tonnes of clams to be grown and nearly 100 tonnes of CO2 to be captured sustainably per year.


The debate about diet continues to feature heavily in the news around the world. Often mixed with the subject of climate control, what form of diet is best for both humans and the planet is a constant source of controversy. Passions can be raised, particularly when the vegetarian versus meat debate surfaces. What is not in doubt is the need to provide a balanced dietary mix of protein, carbohydrate, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many options exist for how these are produced to best preserve the planet’s resources.

Nazaré-based Oceano Fresco SA is a pioneering Portuguese company that is developing a method of farming shellfish which is both good for diet and the environment. Clams, a type of shellfish, are known to be a great source of lean protein, as well as being rich in minerals and vitamins, such as iron, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and Omega-3. In the next 50 years, it is predicted that the need for protein will grow exponentially. The cultivation of clams is one of the biggest alternative sources of protein and has a low environmental impact. It is estimated clams could fulfil the dietary needs of nearly one billion people worldwide, often in the most vulnerable populations on the planet. They could be a viable alternative to intensively farmed meats such as beef. No chemicals or artificial feeds are required and clam production includes aquatic pollution filtering, capturing CO2 in the shell formation.

Oceano Fresco has now concluded the setup of a 103-hectare farm off the coast of Alvor and has nearly one million clam seeds ready to be sent to the Algarve. This has the capacity to capture 99.4 tonnes of CO2 per year, whilst producing an estimated 600 tonnes of clams.



Bernardo Carvalho, Oceano Fresco CEO and founder, explains, “We are building a state-of-the-art Bio Marine Centre (including hatchery, labs and offices) in Nazaré, Central Portugal. This is more modern, productive and integrated than other facilities worldwide. We are using a mass selective breeding programme. Our methods are new to European clam production and result in a higher survival rate.” He continues, “Investment has come through GoParity, a Lisbon-based investment platform which promotes sustainable projects. We chose the Algarve due to the seawater temperature and availability of phytoplankton, a natural clam food.”

The farm off Alvor is composed of submerged cables, on which plates wrapped in mesh (looking a bit like Chinese lanterns) are placed. On these, the clams are cultivated with a natural source of food and perfect biological conditions. The structure has other benefits too, as an ecosystem of organisms grows on it, e.g. barnacles, sea urchins and even fish spawn. Algae, mussels and earthworms play a role, as well as the fish feeding on them and, in turn, the seabirds diving for food – all part of a man-made but sustainable reef system.

Bernado concludes, “We see great economic benefits to Portugal in terms of jobs, investment and diversification from tourism. So far we have created 20 new jobs, including four in the Algarve. Our clams will initially be distributed in Portugal and Spain but then to the rest of Europe and also South East Asia.”

Phil Egginton is a journalist and photographer and now lives in the Algarve.

www.oceano-fresco.pt
www.goparity.com


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