Salmon Crisis: Chile Considers Algae and Bivalves as Alternative

Date of publication : 4/24/2009
Source : FIS Argentina

Senator Antonio Horvath, president of the Senate's Fisheries Commission, has proposed an alternative outlook on tackling the Chilean salmon farming industry crisis, in view of the fact that "the government-proposed job creation plans only last a pair of months and generally fail to generate new productive activities."

"We are proposing forestation plans with algae, which is very meticulous work, even in land-based forestation. A lot of manual labour work is required," explained the federal legislator, given the sector crisis that has generated mass dismissals, resource shortages and social problems.

Programmes must be implemented that add value to resources like bivalves "for although they fetch a very low international price, if packaged, smoked or prepared to somehow add value, new markets open up," Horvath said.

Fisheries Commission legislators will also listen to proposals drafted by non-governmental organisations and the aquaculture sectors workers federation in a bid to learn of possible solutions to the crisis affecting salmon farmers.

Meanwhile, the Chilean government announced it will allocate more than USD 8 million to launch a programme designed to soften the impact of layoffs in the salmon farming industry.

The sharp rise in unemployment is a direct consequence of the sector crisis caused by the ongoing industry struggle with infectious salmon anaemia since mid-2007.

The resources to be implemented next month will serve to stir up four initiatives: entrepreneurship, direct jobs, labour mediation and training.

Many of these measures are "only palliative" however, and in addition, have come too late, in that many workers have already lost their jobs, Horvath indicated.

The sector could recover in about five years, Economy Minister Hugo Lavados estimates.

If the amendments to the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law now being debated are passed in Congress in June, the industry may begin to sow smolts in the last quarter of 2009.

"If this occurs, and we take into account the Atlantic salmon cycle, we hope to reclaim our seat of honour in around five more years," Lavados said.

However, the global positioning of the Chilean salmon fishing industry will also depend on the performance their competitors have in international markets during the low-yield years of Chilean production, he clarified.

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