August 4, 2011


Chile remains cautious of salmon sector amid growth



Chile's central government still expressed their concern about the growth prospects of the salmon farming industry despite improvements in productivity and in health issues three years after the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus crisis hit several farms in the country.


According to official estimates, this growth could become threefold in coming years, causing health hazards, local news reported.


According to the head of the Undersecretariat of Fisheries (Subpesca), Pablo Galilea, a boom in production could threaten the "sustainability" of the sector in the long term.


"The projections that exist today on the growth of the salmon industry make us take care and ensure health equity," the undersecretary stated.


Currently, the salmon industry produces about 420,000 tonnes and for Galilea, that volume could increase to 1.5 million tonnes if the operation capacity of all the licensed aquaculture concessions is performed.


Before the onset of the ISA crisis in 2007, the production of farmed salmon in Chile accounted for 36% of the world, with 660,000 tonnes.


"With the current regulatory framework, and the prices on the market, there is such enthusiasm for farming that harvests will increase significantly next year," said Galilea.


To avoid an increased health risk, the fisheries authority said the government will have to implement several measures such as strengthen monitoring; restrict the aquaculture concessions that have no effective use; increase fines to non-compliance; and establish mechanisms for the relocation of farms in the regions of Los Lagos, Aysen and Magallanes.


"We want to put an end to speculation. When the new areas for aquaculture are declared, we will not handle them under the traditional system, but we will use a tender system and the state that receives the resources will make the decision. Today, people who have received the concessions for a low cost end up trading them in the market," he added.


The Undersecretary of Fisheries said that while there are 23 farms suspected of ISA virus outbreaks, "a new strain has not been discovered."

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