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'SeafoodWatch's recommendations are based on 10 principles, and in 80% of them Chile fares well'

Salmones Camanchaca clarifies: 'About the recommendations made on Chilean salmon by the NGO SeafoodWatch'

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Friday, January 14, 2022, 05:00 (GMT + 9)

Monterey Bay Aquarium SeafoodWatch is a reputable organization that helps seafood consumers and producers make choices that help keep the oceans healthier.

We fully share this purpose because the world and especially Chile needs to take advantage of the sea's resources to feed itself and reduce the immense pressure that land crops generate on the planet. Indeed, the Earth has about 70% of sea, and only 30% of land of which only a small part can be used for cultivation, which has meant an overexploitation of good quality land; deforestation is a clear example. The sea, on the other hand, is underutilized, and as wild fisheries are at the limit of their exploitation, aquaculture has come in recent decades to provide the "blue" solution to the challenge of feeding the world in a healthy way.

Chile is the second largest producer of salmon in the world, but it is by far the one that produces the most salmon recommended by SeafoodWatch (Best Choice & Good), well above Norway, which is the main producer in the world. Chile has 40% of all well rated or recommended salmon! This volume is higher than all salmon of equal qualification from Canada, Scotland and the Faroe Islands combined. Almost a fifth of our production is well rated, compared to less than a tenth in Norway, the main competitor. Interestingly, very little attention has been paid to those.

2. SeafoodWatch's recommendations are based on 10 principles, and in 80% of them Chile does well; nothing is said about that. The principles in which Chilean salmon is doing well are (i) robust information systems to monitor where it is recognized that Chile has made great progress. (ii) adequate systems to prevent the runoff of tributaries to the waters that damage the environment; (iii) appropriate location of the farming centers to preserve the balance of the ecosystem; (iv) the use of food from sustainable sources; (v) systems that prevent or reduce the multiplication of parasites that may affect wild species; (vi) use of fish that come from fish farms since their origins to avoid impact on wild species; (vii) systems that prevent impacts on predators to avoid their overpopulation, where Chile has systems far superior to all other producers in the world; (viii) systems that prevent the introduction of other species or pathogens resulting from the movement of fish.

There are many good things in Chile, more than in other producing countries, although this is not complacency, and there is much work to be done. But you have to be objective in the trials.

SeafoodWatch's main objections to Chilean salmon are based on the principles that evaluate the use of antibiotics in farming, and the escapes of fish from farms.

Photo: Salmones Camanchaca

3.On the use of antibiotics, the comparison seems to be Norway, which has little use. But the criticism looks as if in Chile we use it voluntarily and indiscriminately, which is wrong. In Chile, an order from a veterinarian is required who must prove that the fish to be treated are sick and must be helped to heal. The opposite would be against all care for animal welfare. There is no use of AB preventively or voluntarily. On the other hand, the main antibiotic used in Chile is exclusively used for veterinary medicine and for rapid elimination, and the salmon that reach the plates of millions of consumers in the world are free of antibiotics because the regulations of all markets oblige them to producers to wait a good period of time between the treatment if it has occurred, and the slaughter of the fish, so that the fillet or the portion that a person eats is free of antibiotics.

On this point, it is also relevant to note that the Chilean industry, through Salmon Chile and the Chilean Marketing Salmon Council, committed about 3 years ago with the Monterrey Bay Aquarium organization, to reduce the use of AB by improving operational practices and incorporating new technologies that mitigate risks, including extensive use of vaccines that, although not entirely effective, do help; or the use of functional foods that improve the immune capacities of the fish. Advances have been highlighted with substantial markdowns, although there is still progress to be made. The companies are committed to this as it is a source of significant improvements for the results of the activity; Diseases are also very expensive for companies, and it suits no one, except perhaps our competitors outside of Chile.

4. Regarding 'escaped' salmon, it is said that they would be a threat to the industry. But it is relevant to clarify that in Chile three species of salmon are cultivated (i) Atlantic Salmon (ii) Rainbow Trout and (iii) Coho Salmon. Regarding the Atlantic Salmon, the main one, scientific evidence has shown that it is a species incapable of establishing natural populations in the southern south of Chile, and that it does not interact with wild species of the same type, as it does in the northern hemisphere. Regarding the other two species, it is important to indicate that there are wild populations that were established prior to the development of modern salmon farming, product of initiatives of the Chilean government in conjunction with development agencies of Japan and the United States, from which it follows that no This will result in the establishment of new species in the southern south of Chile that could put native populations at risk.

The foregoing seeks to contextualize this principle addressed by SeafoodWatch, and in no case justify leaks, which are accidents resulting from poor management of operational risks in farms; they are not inevitable in salmon farming. In this context, the Chilean authority has recently modernized its regulations on cultivation structures to substantially reinforce the cages, ropes and buoys used in the cultivation centers, which -associated with better management systems of the companies- should significantly reduce the events of leaks.

Ricardo Garcia Holtz

Vicepresidente Salmones Camanchaca


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