The economic feasibility of culture of the giant barnacle Austromegabalanus psittacus (Molina, 1782) in southern Chile is analyzed. This species is traditionally exploited on a small scale by local fishermen, with average landings of 200 t/y. Cultures on a semi-industrial scale have been undertaken, from settlement of competent larvae present in the water column, through grow-out. Growth sustained by seston filtration produces specimens of a commercially viable size in a maximum of 24 mo. To determine the economic feasibility of cultures of these species, the investments required, production costs, yields, and the potential market prices of two products were evaluated: canned products and frozen meat, with the latter including opercular plates. To this effect, cultures were undertaken in suspended systems in Metri Bay (41°36′ S; 72°43′ W), and the following parameters were evaluated: average spat density in the artificial collector; mortality; gross annual production per longline; average gross weight per specimen, including shell; period from spat collection to harvest; operational costs; and labor requirements. Loss through processing and packaging, in addition to product yield and costs, were evaluated for both products in an industrial processing plant. To carry out market studies, a visit was undertaken to the Aomori Prefecture in Japan, where a similar species, Balanus rostratus or “mine fujit subo,” is commercialized. Prices of other species of crustaceans were also considered as a reference. Based on technical and economic findings, cash flows were budgeted and economic profitability indicators (net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), discounted payback period (DPBP), and economic profitability index (EPI)), were calculated. To incorporate risk and its effects on economic performance, a local sensitivity analysis was undertaken, considering a range of possible values for six critical variables and their influence on NPV and IRR. Elasticity measures, which express the percent change in NPV given a percent change in a variable, were estimated for each critical variable in both products. Furthermore, business viability limits were calculated, determining critical values for each variable separately, all others being held constant. Evidence and results indicate that culture of the giant barnacle is economically viable, with attractive economic indicators for both processed products (NPV above US$490,000, IRR above 36%, DPBP from 3–5 y, and EPI above 1.7 times). Projected income, profits, estimated cash flows, and economic indicators are higher in canned products, resulting from differences in product yields and market prices. For both products evaluated, the greatest capital investment corresponds to marine culture systems (longlines and spat collectors), and the most significant operational cost is labor used during the culture process. Sensitivity analysis indicates that, in general, this culture can withstand important changes in each critical variable, maintaining a positive NPV, especially in canned products. Comparing elasticity values among products, frozen meat presents a higher sensitivity level with greater elasticity for every critical variable. In both products, the variable with lowest incidence on NPV is processing and packing costs, and the most relevant variables are gross weight at harvest and sale price FOB. Results indicate that giant barnacle culture is technically and economically feasible. Thus, interesting possibilities emerge for the diversification of Chilean aquaculture as well as for other barnacle cultures, such as the “craca” of the Azores Islands, Portugal, and the “fujit subo” in Japan.
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Vol. 30 • No. 1