EcoSea copper alloy netting being lifted on to land for recycling after 12 years of constant use in Chile. Photo: EcoSea.

Recycling milestone for Chilean fish cage maker

A Chilean fish pen supplier that specialises in using copper alloy netting has completely recycled the alloy and high-density polyethylene used in 60 cages since the beginning of last year.

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EcoSea, which makes pens for sheltered sites and submersible cages for high-energy, exposed locations, has recycled 420 tonnes of alloy and HDPE collars.

Copper alloy offers the advantages of preventing biofouling and being resistant to predators such as sea lions and seals, which helps make the cages a better solution for the environment and farmers, says the firm.

EcoSea copper alloy netting compacted and ready for recycling. Photo: EcoSea.

No waste

“This [recycling] milestone not only proves that our systems allow us to develop an environmentally cleaner and traceable aquaculture, but that they are more environmentally friendly, it generates value by being recyclable and after its useful life there is no waste, avoiding the impact to our oceans,” said EcoSea chief executive Nicolás Castillo in a press release.

In the last 12 years, Chile has produced 50,000 tonnes of fish using EcoSea pens, the company said. It calculated that producing fish in the copper alloy nets avoided the use of 160 tons of nylon, the generation of 8,000 tonnes of biofouling which would have been deposited in landfills or the seabed, and 184 tonne of chemicals that are used in antifouling paints. It is estimated that all these impacts prevented the emission of 10,300 tonnes of CO₂.

Contributing to sustainability

“Our objective is to contribute to sustainable food, based on avant-garde aquaculture that ensures the wellbeing of the species inside the cages and taking care of the environment and the social environment at all times,” said Castillo.

He added that there was a global trend towards open ocean cages “because coastal aquaculture is overexploited, generates excessive stress on fish, severe impacts on the environment and serious conflicts with communities”.

EcoSea claims that on average its technology reduces 155kg of CO₂ equivalent emissions per tonne of fish produced.

Its cages are used to farm salmon, seriola and yellow croaker and is used in six countries, The Puerto Montt-based company has branches in Japan and China.