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To grow clams in salted rice fields in the Ebro Delta to prevent damage to the blue crab

  • The Fitogel project, led by IRTA, will study whether it is possible in fields in the Alfacs Bay
  • The invasive species depredates bivalves at all stages of development, making it impossible to cultivate on the Mediterranean coast

The grown of clams is declining on the Mediterranean coast, among others due to the blue crab, an invasive species that feeds on all stages of its development. Now, researchers at the Institute for Agri-Food Research and Technology (IRTA) will study whether it is possible and economically viable to grown clams on land rafts. Specifically, they will do so in rice fields in the Alfacs Bay, in the Ebro Delta, with poor performance due to their salinization due to the subsidence of the delta and the rise in sea level caused by the climate change. “This would provide an alternative to maintaining both clam and shellfish farming at a time when the natural banks of bivalves are very small,” says IRTA researcher Margarita Fernández.

The research is carried out within the framework of the Fitogel project, which lasts one and a half years, in which the Torre de la Sal Aquaculture Institute (IATS-CSIC), from Castellón, also participates.

In addition, the project aims not only to study the possibility to growing clams in soil rafts, but also how to improve the nutrition of grown clams. To do this, phytoplankton gels and new strains of microalgae will be used which may be interesting for feeding and simplify the requirements for facilities and investments to produce food for clams. “During the first stages of life it is necessary to feed clams with phytoplankton crops; Having more diversity of microalgae species will allow them to be fed with a more nutritious product, which will improve both their growth and survival, “says IRTA researcher.

IRTA has the collaboration of Fundación Biodiversidad, of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, to carry out this project, being, the Fitogel project, beneficiary  in the Call for Subsidies of the Pleamar Program, co-financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.