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Chilean salmon industry expects worst production ever in 2010

Wednesday, October 28th 2009 - 02:43 UTC
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Once a booming industry, Chilean salmon production has plummeted Once a booming industry, Chilean salmon production has plummeted

Trade association Salmon-Chile is predicting that next year will be Chile’s worst salmon production year in the industry’s history. Estimates show that approximately 300,000 to 350,000 tons of salmon will be produced in 2010 or roughly half the quantity produced in 2008 and 1,000 tons less than in 2009.

“2010 will be the worst year since the Infectious Salmon Anemia Disease (ISA) virus first broke out in 2007,” said SalmonChile General Manager Carlos Odebret.

He estimates that things will start to pick up towards the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.

Although ISA does not infect humans, the outbreak caused thousands of job losses in Chile’s salmon farming south (namely Region X) as exports slowed. Now thousands more fear job losses after the 2009 harvest season ends.

Marine Harvest, the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon, was the first company operating in Chile to feel the full effects of the ISA outbreak, which was first detected in mid 2007. The salmon giant was also the first to announce widespread job cuts (ST, August 24).

Marine Harvest’s announcement in early 2008 that it would axe approximately 1,000 jobs (PT, Feb 21, 2008) set a trend that has since resulted in as many as 20,000 industry layoffs, union leaders claim.

In May, desperate residents in the farmed salmon-dependent city of Quellón (Region XIV) took their frustrations to the streets, starting fires and occupying island roadways.

That same month, the Puerto Montt office of SalmonChile burned to the ground (PT, May 4); police immediately suspected arson and raided the homes of union leaders who said that they had nothing to do with the incident.

By Gida Homad-Hamam - Santiago Times

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