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Predicting the potential impacts of further developing the salmon aquaculture industry in the Magallanes region of Chile.

photos: IPS, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Clubfish World

Chile Salmon

Bioeconomics of Aquaculture in Southern Chile

Project Overview

More than one fifth of the protein consumed by humans worldwide comes from seafood, and depletion of wild fish stocks has put tremendous pressures on global seafood supplies. To meet rising demand, aquaculture production has significantly increased global seafood supply and represents the most rapidly growing segment of agriculture. A significant proportion of that growth is due to salmon farming.

The salmon farming industry in Chile experienced explosive growth in the decades following its introduction in the Los Lagos Region in the late 1970s. Chile quickly became the world’s second largest exporter of farmed salmon. The development of the aquaculture industry in Chile initially resulted in economic prosperity and job opportunities; however, its rapid growth, coupled with weak industry regulations and poor management practices led to serious environmental and socioeconomic consequences. In 2007, an outbreak of the infections salmon anemia (ISA) virus led to virtual industry collapse and left the Los Lagos Region financially, socially, culturally, and environmentally devastated.

The aquaculture industry is now beginning to expand into the pristine waters of the fjords of the Magallanes Region, which is the southernmost, and largest, region in the Country. Our project seeks to assess the environmental, social, and economic effects of this expansion and to inform best management practice decisions.