Historical aspects, current status and prospects of pejerrey aquaculture in South America


Correspondence: C A Strüssmann, Department of Marine Biosciences, Faculty of Marine Science, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, 4-5-7 Konan, Minato, Tokyo 108-8477, Japan. E-mail: carlos@kaiyodai.ac.jp


The pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis (Valenciennes, 1835) is an inland water fish from the Pampas region comprising part of Argentina, Uruguay and the South of Brazil. Pejerrey is a very popular fish in this region and has a long history of domestic and international introductions, which attests to the high quality and market value of its flesh, as well as its attractiveness as a game fish. The desirable characteristics of pejerrey also make it a good candidate for aquaculture, and the first trials on pejerrey cultivation (atheriniculture) were started more than a century ago in Argentina. In spite of the considerable interest in its development, little progress has been made and atheriniculture is still restricted to propagation and stocking for sport fishing purposes. In this review, we summarize the history of atheriniculture and the biological, technological, scientific, cultural and infrastructural constraints to pejerrey aquaculture development thus far. We also suggest possible scenarios of pejerrey aquaculture development compatible with the socio–economic conditions of South American countries. Our projections also take into consideration recent scientific findings on the biology of pejerrey and technological advances in seafood processing, storage and transportation, as well as the latest trends of seafood consumption and international markets. The best production strategy remains to be determined by trial and error but it is likely that, initially, production should focus on a differentiated, high-quality fish for the premium or international markets rather than attempting to compete with the cheap fish from natural sources. An international cooperation project with Japan has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of breeding pejerrey in captivity and mass producing seeds efficiently in Argentina, and has provided the foundation for the development of intensive and extensive farming of this species.