Chile thanks to its climate has many advantages for salmon farming. Even though it’s not native, since it was introduced from Scotland and Norway in the early 1920s, salmon adapted very well and aquaculture evolved greatly over the next years.
Salmon is farmed in floating cages mostly in the south of the country and particularly between Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas. The mild season allows a healthy produce and water sources provide perfect temperature (10° C to 14° C) and levels of salinity. Some other factors have helped for this booming of aquaculture like cheap skilled force and favorable regulations.
Chile entered the global salmon market in the early 80’s and became the world’s second largest producer of salmon after Norway by 1992.Salmon accounts for 93% of Chile’s fish farming industry. The industry includes 140 producers and more than 1,000 suppliers of associated good and services. The main markets for salmon are Japan, the U.S. and Brazil.
The industry suffered a major crisis by 2007. The ISA virus crisis , hit the Chilean salmon industry that year and continued until mid-2010, caused a 20% drop in exports of Atlantic salmon and the loss of nearly half of the 50,000 direct jobs generated that industry in Chile.
However, the industry was able to recover very quickly to the point that by 2011 the industry exceeded US$ 3,000 million in exports and already projected to reach $ 5,000 million in exports by 2016, according to data provided by the association of industrial salmon , SalmonChile (http://www.salmonchile.cl/en/index.php) . These figures are quite higher than US$ 2,249 million in 2007.
The job market has also recovered and is evolving. During the crisis of the ISA virus , more than 15 thousand people lost their jobs out of the 32 thousand direct jobs generated by the sector in the southern regions .
Now the industry has reached pre-crisis levels. Most of the jobs have been reinstated and new productions models aimed to build a sustainable industry are attracting new professionals who are eager to take part in this industry.
The industry of salmon has a great future since worldwide there is a growing market specially for the demand for healthy proteins and fresh produce. Salmon stands out mainly because of its content of Omega 3 which attracts new consumers each day. Future is certainly looking bright for this industry.