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Chilean Firm Wins GAA's Aquaculture Innovation & Leadership Award

09 October 2014

CHILE - Rodrigo Prado, a civil engineer and director of USONIC Ltda. in Puerto Montt, Chile, is the winner of the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Preferred Freezer Services Global Aquaculture Innovation and Leadership Award.

The winner was announced on Day two of GAA’s GOAL 2014 conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, on October 9.

USONIC’s innovation involves the use of ultrasound to control Chilean sea lice (Caligus rogercresseyi) infestations.

In numerous trials, the company showed that the application of ultrasound underwater, directly in fish pens, has a lethal effect on juvenile stages of Caligus rogercresseyi. Concurrently, the application of ultrasound has no affect salmon or marine mammals due to the low power and frequencies used -- only 20 KHz per transmitter.

USONIC was established to help Chile’s farmed salmon industry control harmful organisms - including sea lice larvae, microalgae and fouling -- in the water column.

The company was co-financed by the Chilean National Agency of Economic Development (CORFO). The technology and its specific applications are in the process of being patented in Chile and other countries.

The five judges selected USONIC’s innovation as the winner because it is an innovative solution to an industry-wide problem.

Accepting the award and giving a presentation on Prado’s behalf was Constanza Alvial, who works with Prado. Alvial was introduced by Dan Didonato, VP of sales and marketing at Preferred Freezer Services, and GAA President George Chamberlain, who presented her with a plaque and a US $1,000 cash prize.

This is the second consecutive year that GAA has offered the award, which is designed to recognise innovative practices that overcome production challenges or mitigate negative environmental or social impacts at aquaculture farms. This year the award was expanded to include leadership, to coincide with the GOAL 2014 theme, “Celebrating Leadership.”

All types of innovations qualified for the award, including wetlands conservation, feed management, water-quality management, effluent reduction, energy reduction, staff training, community relations, animal welfare, and health and nutrition.

The four judges were GAA President Chamberlain; Best Aquaculture Practices Standards (BAP) Coordinator Dan Lee; Michael Tlusty, director of research at the New England Aquarium; and Dawn Purchase, senior aquaculture officer at the Marine Conservation Society. Mr Chamberlain, Mr Tlusty and Ms Purchase are also members of the BAP Standards Oversight Committee.

Amir Sagi, Ph.D., a professor at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, was the winner of last year’s inaugural Novus International Global Aquaculture Innovation Award.

Dr Sagi’s innovation involves a novel biotechnology application to produce all-male populations of the giant freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, through temporal RNA interference.

TheFishSite News Desk

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