OPMEGA presents trends and innovations of interest for the mussel sector of Galicia

OPMEGA presents trends and innovations of interest for the mussel sector of Galicia

The Organization of Mussel Producers from Galicia (OPMEGA) has presented at the technical conferences held today in Vilagarcía, the latest trends and innovations of interest to the Galician mussel sector. The Conference entitled “Innovation and valorization of Galician mussel”, which are part of its Production and Commercialization Plan, financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, were presented by the president of the Producer Organization, Ricardo Herbón González, who emphasized that the main objective of the day was to expose topics of interest for its members, while it was intended that the rest of attendees knew the sector a little more by providing information that put in value its product, the mussels of the Galician estuaries. Along with Ricardo Herbón, the ceremony was opened by Carola González Kessler, Deputy Director General of Aquaculture and Fisheries Marketing of the General Secretariat of Fisheries, who highlighted the role of OPMEGA as a producer organization at the national level, and talked about public financing through Production and Marketing Plans, but also through other measures such as promotion, useful for the mussel sector when it comes to addressing future challenges. Then, the Tourism Deputy of the Diputación Provincial de Pontevedra, who attended on behalf of its president, Carmela Silva, continued. Santos Hector stressed the central role of new technologies as essential to keep the sector booming for the future, highlighting that with days like today, the sector proves to be on the right track. Finally, Alberto Varela Paz intervened as Mayor of Vilagarcía, who gave the day officially inaugurated. Alberto Varela highlighted the vital role of Vilagarcía as the capital of the mussel sector, since it concentrates 70% of the producers, counts on the Regulatory Council, with OPMEGA and with the reference research center of the mussel (INTECMAR) to then speak to the attendees of the history of the sector, putting in value the celebration of days like today.

Divided into different blocks, the technical presentations started with the promotion and defense block of the protected appellation of origin, led by Lino Suárez, OPMEGA’s director of operations. Gabriela André Rivas, responsible for Marketing and Marketing of the Galician Mussel Regulatory Council, explained the objective values ​​of the Galician mussel, such as its taste, nutritional properties, value of the environment or know-how of the sector, which then It is associated with subjective values ​​due to its consumption, such as happiness, and then we talk about different initiatives of the Regulatory Council for the promotion of this product, with a protected designation of origin. One of these initiatives is the project “Mexillón de Galicia, a sea of ​​possibilities” in which it has worked directly with the Carlos Oroza Hotel School, where the study of the Galician mussel was introduced into the school’s agenda. The objective was to promote the consumption of mussels and promote their prestige. The students carried out several phases during the duration of the project, among which was the preparation of culinary proposals. This implies that these students learn to face challenges that will serve them in their future after studies, and that these future cooks and cooks integrate the Mexillón de Galicia in their letters. He continued with the theme Carmen González Sotelo of the IIM-CSIC, which presented the Sea Traces project focused on the fight against conomic fraud and the incorrect labeling of products, in defense of the product of origin and known value, such as the Galician Mussel . Within this project is working on the generation of tools to fight against this food fraud, in different areas of great interest to the sector such as the development of rapid methods of identification of the different species of mussels and their hybrids based on analysis of DNA, as well as the development of methodologies that allow the determination of the geographical origin of mussels independent of the species. Within the framework of this project, work will be carried out to study the valuation of consumers of the Protected Designation of Origin, as well as the socio-economic assessment of the advantages of proper labeling.

In a second block on innovation in the machinery of processing in the mussel sector, the Dutch company Murre Technologies presented innovative mussel processing equipment from the cultivation and extraction of cheeks to processing in different formats. In a first exposed video, as well as in the following images shown by Huibert-Jan Zweemer, it was possible to observe innovative technologies for the capture and cleaning of seed, by collecting pipes with integrated brushes that clean the mussel. The transport can be in trasportadoras or by water pump. They also showed machinery on land for washing the mussel to market, clean and select. During the cleaning process they are removed from stones to empty shells by differentiation in weight, and then go through an inspection by artificial vision that removes unfit mussels. The sorters are able to differentiate up to eight sizes, and the packaging and weighing is also fully automated in their plants. They also presented low pressure cooking options, which allows continuous production. A third block dealt with the management of the mussel sector based on ICT, where the company from Ourense, IDeiT Ingeniería de Software, presented an interesting application for the management of rafts. Moisés Cid showed live, in the current state of software development, how this allows to manage all the processes that are carried out in a production or batting unit. Thus, from sowing, to splitting, extraction or reparking, everything would be controlled from a mobile or any other device in a very simple and intuitive way in APP format. It also allows the management over time through calendar of activities and will allow, after a second phase of development, perform a cost and profitability control of each unit.

As it could not be otherwise, the fourth block dealt with issues of sustainability in the management of fishery products through the presentation on the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification, offered by Alberto Martín. The figures offered by Alberto in terms of the evolution of the sustainable certification of fishery products in our country that has experienced a very significant increase in recent years is very remarkable in this regard. At present, 16% of the world’s fish production is certified. In the case of the mussel, there are many cases in northern Europe and in the case of producers from Chile and Ireland. This topic aroused great interest on the part of the sector, especially as more and more large marketing areas are betting on products with the blue seal (MSC) in their products sold. The last block dealt with the recurrent problematic of toxins, this time treating the detection of these, in particular the innovative methods of detection in relation to the recent modification of the legislation (EU Regulation 2017/1980) that came into force last 1 January 2019. First it was the turn of Pedro Iglesias CAMM SL, who spoke about the regulation and what it means for the sector, which is the elimination of the use of bioassay for the detection of toxins, proposing chemical methods also for the paralyzing toxin (PSP), which is the only one that was missing. The proposed method is called the Lawrence method, and is very sensitive and selective, allowing each of the toxin compounds to be determined and a toxic profile to be made. The drawback is its higher cost, and that requires highly qualified personnel. In second place, Álvaro Antelo from CIFGA S.A. he was in charge of talking about the new chemical methods as opposed to those of bioassay (with mouse), emphasizing the greater speed and specificity of the chemists, but noting that the bioassay allowed a more universal detection, because when the mouse died, it was not known what Toxin was the reason (it could be an unregulated one) and the polygon was closed anyway. CIFGA is working to have chemical detection standards for more toxins in the future than those regulated, so that chemical methods cover the widest possible range, being the first laboratory accredited worldwide for the detection of marine toxins. They also work on their own detection methods that can improve on the ones currently standardized to improve them.

Finally, the President Ricardo Herbón addressed the closing ceremony of the day, which included the participation of Dr. Uxio Labarta, a research professor at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (IIM), and the Conselleira del Mar Rosa Quintana. After 35 years of research, Uxio Labarta delighted us with his presentation entitled “El Paradigma del Mejillón. 35 years later “where he summarized the results of a lifetime of work with the star species of Galicia, given its importance in the European market, showing great affection for the sector. The exhibition presented some data resulting from an entire career devoted to a better understanding of the biology and ecology of this species, working on various topics such as the study of environmental conditions and how they affect the growth and profitability of mussels, or cheek catchment systems. In conclusion, he stressed that there is a great commercial future if you work and take into account the possibilities of improvement in the cultivation strategy and in the use of data for understanding the effect of environmental conditions on the life cycle of the mussel. The session was closed by the Conselleira, Rosa Quintana, who gave a reflection on the evolution of the mussel sector over the past 30 years, putting in value the effort made by producers in the technological evolution of the sector. In her opinion, this path is the future of the sector, which should go hand in hand with the great product we have in hand. She spoke of the need to unite research centers and sector for a joint work, highlighting the recent publication of an order of aid to aquaculture, and encouraging all producers to participate in this call to improve the competitiveness of the sector, with ideas taken from this day, among others. Finally, she did not want to say goodbye without thanking OPMEGA for the invitation and congratulating them on the success of the chosen theme, as well as highlighting the importance of continuing to increase production due to the state of continuous rise of the world population, which will need quality protein such as that contributes the Mussel from Galicia.

Vilagarcía de Arousa, May 16th, 2019