Economic assessment of hatchery production of Argopecten nucleus spat to support the development of scallop aquaculture in the wider Caribbean
Many communities of fishermen throughout the Caribbean are facing economic difficulties due to the decline of marine resources following decades of overexploitation and poor governance of fish stocks. The farming of native species of scallops could provide an alternative path for a more sustainable utilization of marine resources in the region. This paper presents a cost¿benefit analysis of a public scallop hatchery in the fishing village of Taganga, Colombian Caribbean, which has been producing spat of nucleus scallop (Argopecten nucleus) since the early 2000s, and actively promoting scallop aquaculture among the community of local fishermen since 2010. Based on a projected annual output of 3.78 million spat, financial indicators were rather positive: the 20-year Internal Rate of Return (IRR) was 25.5 percent and total production cost was USD 0.026 per 10-mm spat. Recent innovations in hatchery protocols during the settling stage have led to marked improvements in spat recovery rates, substantially lowering production costs and reducing the hatchery's initial reliance on subsidies. Because the hatchery seems able to produce spat at a much lower cost than other outfits that have operated in the Caribbean, it could potentially emerge as a regional supplier of high quality seed for the wider Caribbean. A major factor affecting competitiveness is the high electricity prices normally found in the Colombian Caribbean and elsewhere in the region.