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Nutrición y Alimentación

Nutrición y alimentación / Ibieta P. et al. 2011. Chilean Salmon Farming on the Horizon of Sustainability: Review of the Development of a Highly Intensive Production, the ISA Crisis and Implemented Actions to Reconstruct a More Sustainable Aquaculture Industry


Pablo Ibieta, Valentina Tapia, Claudia Venegas, Mary Hausdorf and Harald Takle. 2011. Chilean Salmon Farming on the Horizon of Sustainability: Review of the Development of a Highly Intensive Production, the ISA Crisis and Implemented Actions to Reconstruct a More Sustainable Aquaculture Industry. 

PUBLICACIÓN: Aquaculture and the Environment


Historically the Chilean economy has been based in exports accounting for 35% of the gross domestic product and mining is the main export income in the country. However, since 1980s as a part of a promotion the Chilean economy has diversified in part away from its dangerous over-reliance on copper exports. The growth of earnings in the fruit, wine, wood and forestry, fisheries and aquaculture sectors in particular, has been rapid since the early 1980s as Chile has exploited its comparative advantage in environmental endowment and low labour costs on the global market (Barton, 1997; Barton & Murray, 2009). The salmonid cultivation is restricted to regions with particular water temperature ranges in both fresh and seawater environments, sheltered waters and critically excellent water quality. Thus, salmonid aquaculture has become an important activity and the main development gear in the southern regions of Chile. The Chilean salmon industry has shown a fast development over the last 20 years and, therefore; today, Chile is the largest producer of farmed rainbow trout and Coho salmon, and the second worldwide of Atlantic salmon. This situation is the result from the application of innovation and development of value added products, which produced an average annual growth rate of 22% from 1990 to 2007 and an increase of exports from USD 159 million in 1991 to USD 2,242 million in 2007 (SalmonChile, 2007a). In 2006, salmon exports represented 12.94% of the non-mining-related national exports and 38.75% of the Chilean food exports that decreased due to a sanitary crisis down to 9.94% and 31.08% in 2010, respectively (Banco Central de Chile, 2010). The latter indicated that the salmon industry has become an important factor in economic diversification and one fundamental base in the strategy towards positioning Chile in the top rank of world food producers (SalmonChile, 2007b). The growth of aquaculture also impact positively other important sectors of the national economy, such as transport, processing, feed and engineer suppliers, laboratories, veterinary services and many others.

The success of the salmon aquaculture in Chile has been the product of the appropriate assimilation of foreign technologies and development of local technological capabilities. Although national investors played a major role in the early development phases of the industry, the entry of large foreign companies in the last two decades has facilitated the introduction of technologies, enlargement of production, vertical integration, merging and increasing the size of companies. This industry has also contributed to the general development of the economically depressed and rural regions in southern Chile. Although the Chilean salmon aquaculture has performed an astonishing development over the last 20 years, there have been demonstrated severe knowledge gaps before and during the devastating sanitary crisis caused by the infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) outbreaks that nearly led to a collapse of the industry. The aim of the present chapter is to give an overview of the salmon aquaculture in Chile.

Firstly, we describe how salmon farming rose up in a country without native salmonids, and the succeeding establishment of a highly organized and globalized industry. Secondly, we review the congestion of disease problems that peaked with the ISA outbreak that nearly collapsed the whole Chilean salmon industry, and finally the strategies and concrete measurements that have been implemented by the authorities and the industry to remerge the salmon aquaculture in Chile.

Investigador(es) del área

Pablo Ibieta H.

Investigador Senior

Bioquímico, Ph. D.
+56 65 2234650