Cultivos Marinos San Cristóbal was founded in 1996, as a subsidiary of milling company “Compañía Molinera San Cristóbal” , the main shareholder that has been operating in the food business since 1916, focusing on the fluor production.
In April 1997, the construction of our farm located in Caldera city on the desert region of Atacama in northern Chile, was completed. This location was chosen for the absence of rivers that reach the sea and important urban centers, this ensures sea waters of exceptional purity, free of all pollution and in addition to the presence of abundant natural grasslands of brown algae, the main source of abalone feed, a hydrobiological species in which we specialize in producing.
Our company was the first to start cultivating green abalone (halitosis discus hannai) in Chile and later red abalone, currently becoming one of the main abalone producing and exporting companies in Chile.
In 2003, concerned with a sustainable supply of algae to feed our abalones, Cultivos Marinos San Cristóbal invested in a Hatchery to reproduce algae, especially macrosystis spp., A genus that constitutes the nutritional base of abalone. This production system begins in a laboratory, where thousands of seedlings are obtained that are later cultivated in the sea or are delivered to research institutions in order to repopulate the coastline and in this way we reduce our dependence on natural seagrass beds.
At the same time, within the idea of our concern to make our algae supply sustainable in the long term, especially those from Bahía Chascos, in the Bahía Salada area, Copiapó province in the Atacama region, where is located the largest prairie of the natural algae Macrosystis Pyrifera, in the region, which represents by far the area from the bigger percentage of our algae supply is extracted. Our company worked for several years, represented by the APROA abalone association, which together with our artisanal fishing suppliers and the pertinent authorities formed a management plan for Bahía Chascos that set extraction quotas, based on available biomass studies.
In 2013, our company, together with other partners, formed a new company called CASAN SA, which owns an abalone cultivation center located on Tranqui Island, part Chiloé Island archipelago.
Our Atacama farm near of Caldera city, has 100% land based facilities and has the necessary technology to maintain the conditions for the Abalones to develop properly and generate a product of excellent quality and flavor. This support is achieved by working as a unit, different technical areas such as pump house, blowers, filters, generators and water purifiers. In addition to all the methodology for feeding and cleaning abalones where specialized personnel participate.
This productive unit is the one that allows to start the productive cycle since it is where our brood stock is maintained that are spawned regularly, obtaining the valuable Abalone larvae. These are cultivated for about a week during their entire swimming cycle and once they are mature and seeking to fixate on a suitable substrate, they are transferred to the next productive area of juveniles or nursery.
In this area, the necessary conditions are generated for the settlement process of the larvae produced in Hatchery, by preparing the substrates to be settled, with microalgae that induce this process and feeding of the larvae. The settlement lasts a few hours, then the small fixed Abalones graze on the substrates conditioned with microalgae for approximately six months, until they are ready to be weaned to the macroalgae diet and move on to the next productive stage of grow out both in our facilities of Cultivos Marinos San Cristóbal SA, in the city of Caldera, as well as in our subsidiary CASAN SA, located in Chiloé.
This process takes about three years, until the Abalones reach 90 mm. shell length on average, at this stage the Abalones are kept in rearing tanks and their populations are followed from the moment they enter until they leave the system, in such a way that the traceability of each batch is possible to follow. The abalones are fed with a mixture of fresh macro algae, which ensure their health and good condition. The basis of the diet is Macrosystis spp. and in a bigger percentage, in a small portion they are also fed with Lessonia spp and Gracialaria.
Our processing plant for freezing is a unit with HACCP certification, which ensures the food safety of our products, in addition the freezing plant is located within our farm, allowing us this to ensure the minimum time since an Abalone is removed from its tanks until frozen. We also have state-of-the-art technology in the ultra-fast freezing process based on liquid nitrogen, which allows an Abalone that go in the freezing tunnel alive 10 minutes after frozen at -18 ° C to the product center. Freezing is a highly automated system where the glazing processes do not involve people, thus ensuring the reliability and quality of our products.
Seaweed or Algae Hatchery
Productive unit is in charge of artificially reproducing brown macro algae seedlings so that they can then be cultivated in the open sea or destined for repopulating natural grasslands in management areas. This laboratory was created due to the concern of our organization regarding the sustainable supply of food for the future and an environmental responsibility of the exploitation of natural grasslands of this resource.
The farming of brown algae in open ocean private sectors or management areas ceded by the government to fishermen who care and harvest these sectors. Polypropylene lines with inserted plants are introduced, which after an average period of four months reach a size of harvest and then be taken to the farm to feed the abalones. Repopulation tests of natural grasslands have also been carried out.