At the beginning of the 1990s, total harvest from cultivation centres did not exceed 80 000 tonnes. However, in 2004 they reached 688 000 tonnes. Likewise, exported volumes increased, from 30 000 to 430 000 tonnes, which can be translated into US$100 million in 1990 and 1 600 million in 2004.
Salmonid species have been dominant, both in harvest volume and export values. Other important species include bivalve molluscs (oysters, scallops and mussels) and cultivation of the Gracilaria algae. Turbot cultivation has registered a gradual growth from 1 tonne (1991) to 249 tonnes (2004).
The main cultivation systems in use are raft cages for fish and long lines for molluscs. Also important are cultivation systems developed on land ranging from basic technologies to very sophisticated process control systems (for example, sanitation and water recirculation).
As for human resources, there is an adequate availability of researchers, professionals, technicians and specialized labour force to respond to the increasing demand by industry and public and private research programmes. Universities and higher education institutions are actively training human resources oriented towards the satisfaction of the industry’s requirements in production (marine biologists, veterinarians, fishing engineers, aquaculture engineers), processing (industrial and food engineers), and marketing (commercial engineers). There is also a growing specialisation in service areas such as environmental impact assessment, disease diagnosis and treatment, biotechnology, market studies, and foreign trade, among others.
On the other hand, institutional capacity, understood as the institutions and regulations linked to the aquatic sector, has faced significant challenges imposed by the complex dynamics of its growth and development. Even though at present a complex weft of procedures involving several institutions must be overcome to obtain a permit to carry out aquaculture, the institutional capacity has fostered its development to its present status. Perhaps the most important milestone of the last few years has been the official publishing of the National Aquacultural Policy, which established objectives, principles and strategies associated to the activity’s sustainable development. This important instrument of public-private participation also established annual plans of action (for the years 2004 and 2005), which have been achieved satisfactorily.
According to the last census, Chile has 15 116 435 inhabitants; its population density is of 20.4 inhabitants per Km2, and the average age is 30.04 years. Consumption of seafood products, mainly from capture fisheries, reaches only 7.5 kg per capita, figure considerably lower that that for the consumption of other kinds of meat (poultry: 28.8 kg, beef: 25.1 kg and pork: 19.9 kg).
In 2004, aquaculture generated 17 853 direct jobs in cultivation centres. However, the industry has gathered information registering another 20 000 jobs in activities such as processing plants and miscelaneous services (harvesting, transportation, treatment of disease, etc.).
In 2004, Chile’s nominal GNP was calculated in US$70 335, of which 3.18 percent correspond to the capture fisheries and aquaculture. The national GNP increased by 5.8 percent as compared to the immediately previous year. In 2004, the aquaculture sector generated US$1 581 million in exports, corresponding to 430 717 tonnes of products, mainly salmon (92.3 percent), Chilean and European mussels (2.5 percent), gracilaria (2.3 percent) and scallops (1.7 percent). Almost all of the aquaculture production is exported, mainly to the United States, Japan, and the European Union.
One comparative advantage of Chilean aquaculture is the availability of nationally produced fish-feeds which utilize local raw materials (fish meal and oil). This has allowed for the development of an important fish-feed industry, which is recognised for its state-of-the-art technology and proven quality standards. During 2004, Chile produced 830 000 tonnes of fish feeds, which correspond mostly to the national consumption. Notwithstanding, 2 percent was exported to New Zealand, China, Brazil and Argentina.
The Chilean aquaculture sector is expected to face several internal and external problems and threats. Internally, considering the projections for the growth and diversification of the activity, aquaculture shall have to face growing interactions with other users of the environment and spaces it occupies. In this context, Chilean aquaculture shall have to show it is willing to grow and develop under the principles of sustainable development. Externally, considering that most aquacultural products are exported mainly to three destination markets, there will be growing competition problems with other producing countries, as well as more demanding requirements associated to guaranteeing seafood innocuousness for the final consumers. However, Chile has great opportunities to continue growing in this important economic activity, considering: the quality and quantity of available environments; the growing development of the private sector’s social responsibility; the gradual consolidation of public institutionalism; the significant and growing efforts to invest in research, development and transfer of technology; and policies oriented towards the development and diversification of the activity in all stages of production. In conclusion, the growth and consolidation of this activity will depend on the fulfilment of the principles and objectives committed in the National Aquacultural Policy, and the promotion of the greatest economic growth in time, within a framework of environmental sustainability and equality in access. It is estimated that public and private will and capacities are available to face this challenge.
In Chile, the first efforts in commercial aquaculture were carried out in the period 1921-1973, through plans and initiatives, mostly by the State, on the basis of extensive and semi-intensive systems. In those years, mollusc cultivation centres were created for the development of scallop and mussel culture, as well as cultivation centres for salmon species to create and develop commercial fisheries based on sea-ranching systems (Basulto, 2003).
However, commercial aquaculture began in Chile in the 1980s, coherently with the national economic policy that enthused private activity, the opening to international trade and as a response to the increase in the over-exploitation of local fishery stocks of native species destined to international markets. Thus, aquaculture quickly developed geared towards foreign trade, based on the cultivation of high commercial value species, and whose cultivation technology was known.
The greatest technological development has been associated to the cultivation of fish, followed by the cultivation of scallops and oysters. In general, cultivation of mussels and algae are small- and medium-scale crops, with lesser levels of investment and technology.
The notable development of the salmon industry after the 1980s has been based on the appropriate and advantageous natural conditions the country offers, its lower production costs, the global macroeconomic environment, and the public and private support aimed to the productive stage. There are other factors, such as tributary franchises to exports, improvement of seafood products quality control, an increase in added value, packaging, presentation, transportation, and storage and port facilities. Complementarily, the economic and foreign exchange policies, market promotion, as well as the opening of the world’s economies, a decrease in tariffs, the evolution in eating habits, an increase in per capita income in the main consuming markets and acknowledgment of the quality of Chilean products have been some of the external factors that have spurred the growth of the industry (Agosín, 1999; http://www.subpesca.cl ).
In 2004, the FOB value of aquaculture-generated exports was US$1 581 444 000 corresponding to 430 976 tonnes, as opposed to fisheries, which attained US$997 848 000 with a volume of 882 122 tonnes. Out of the total volume exported, 93 percent corresponded to the intensive aquaculture of fish, 5 percent to semi-intensive and extensive mollusc cultivation and 1.7 percent to the extensive cultivation of algae (Sources: National Fishing Service, Under-ministry of Fishing; Fishing Statistic Yearbooks, 1997 to 2004, datos preliminares del Servicio nacional de Pesca).
The average annual growth rate for aquaculture between 1997 and 2004 was 10.5 percent.
Today, many of the jobs created, are generated by the 2 400 current cultivation centres (Under-ministry of Fishing). According to Salmón Chile, the salmon industry trade association, the number of employees includes 24 800 direct and 9 800 indirect (R. Infante, personal communication). On the other hand, data of the Under-ministry of Fishing records 14 060 permanent posts and 5 492 temporary ones, although this information only includes the labour force directly occupied in cultivation centres whilst employment generated by indirect or associated activities, such as transportation, fish feed manufacture, net cleansing and repair, repair and maintenance of equipment and machinery, diving and site location services, processing plants, administration and engineering services, consultancy (veterinary, oceanographic, ecologic, etc), and commerce in general, is not registered.
Production centres employ professionals such as aquaculture engineers, fisheries engineers, aquaculture and fisheries technicians, marine biologists and veterinarians, etc. who may occupy positions in production areas as assistants or managers. Other professionals, such as Industrial engineers, commercial engineers and other professionals associated to the administrative area, occupy managerial posts. The inhabitants of rural communities make up unqualified labour force.
Aquaculture, through its variety of species, scales of production, income generation and job creation, has contributed to the development of rural areas. In 2003, 979 aquaculture centres reported production, all of which were distributed as follows: 81 percent in Region X, 6 percent in Region XI, 4 percent in Region IV and 4 percent in Region III.
Chilean aquaculture is developed mostly in coastal marine environments, and secondly, in freshwater environments (lakes and rivers). The activity has concentrated almost exclusively in two administrative areas in the country: Regions III–IV, which produced 31 144 tonnes corresponding to 5 percent of the national crop for 2003, and Regions X–XI, which provided 560 240 tonnes equivalent to 92 percent (Source: National Fishing Service). (Annex, Fig. 1, 2 y 3).
In 2003, 1 759 centres were in operation, of which 979 reported harvests that totalled 607 214 tonnes and whose composition by resource groups was of 80 percent fish, 13 percent mollusc and 7 percent algae. 75 percent of the centres registering a fish harvest are located in Region X, although they are also present in Regions IV to XII. The greatest percentage of centres registering algae crops is in Region X (90 percent), although they are also present in a smaller percentage in Regions II, III, IV and VIII. Molluscs are also distributed in a greater percentage in Region X (77.4 percent), although they are also present in Regions I to IX (Sernapesca, 2003).
In terms of mean cultivation area, the largest cultivation centres correspond to the production of scallops, followed by salmonids, and to a lesser extent by oysters, mussels, and finally, algae. The total area of aquaculture concessions issued in Chile up to 2004, reaches 19 600 hectares.
The greatest production corresponds to intensive salmon cultivation in suspended systems (raft-cages) located in marine and estuary environments, as well as in freshwater environments. Today, the design of productive units for the marine environment tends to be circular (10–15 m diameter) and between 15 and 20 m tall, which are placed in trains of up to 10 units, and a cultivation centre can have up to three trains of rafts, depending on the surface area of lease.
To a lesser extent, semi-intensive longline cultivation of the Northern scallop, and extensive cultivation of other bivalve molluscs (Chilean or European mussels and oysters) are produced.
Following in importance is the Gracilaria algae, produced in extensive cultivations associated to marine and estuary zones. The culture technique consists of vegetative propagation through the fragmentation of stems, which are then planted directly on the sandy bottoms (Avila et al., 1994).
Approximately 13 species are presently being cultivated, six of which are native (Northern scallop, gracilaria, Chilean mussel, shoe-mussel, cholga mussel and Chilean oyster).
Table 1. Species commercially cultivated in Chile
Fish cultivation is represented mainly by the Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, coho or Pacific salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, and king salmon, Oncorhynchus tschawyscha, whose production contributes the greatest value of fishing exports: 57 percent of fisheries exports, and 93 percent of aquaculture exports in 2004. Turbot, Psetta maxima, cultivated in earthen ponds, contributed 0.2 percent of the exported volume in 2004.
The cultivation of Gracilaria spp. or “pelillo”, contributed 1.7 percent of total exports. Its extensive culture, was developed on the natural over-exploited plains or grasslands located all along the coastline between Regions II and XI.
The cultivation of Mitílids (mussels) and of the Northern scallop has increased significantly in the past few years. Native molluscs cultivated commercially (the Northern scallop Argopecten purpuratus and the Chilean mussel Mytilus chilensis) are produced under semi-intensive systems with a 0.6 percent and 4 percent contribution to exports in the year 2004. The Chilean oyster (Ostrea chilensis), the choro mussel (Choromytilus chorus), and the cholga mussel (Aulacomya ater) are cultured under extensive systems and are mainly for the domestic markets. The main reason for not exporting these species is that they are not demanded by external markets.
The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) contributed with 0.2 percent in terms of export volume in 2004 while the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) with only 0.04 percent. 87 leases occupying 666 hectares have been authorised for the cultivation of the red abalone, all of them in Region X, with an average of 7.6 hectares per cultivation centre. In Regions IV and V, the cultivation of abalonehas been authorised only in earthen ponds, which has resulted in the expenditure of significant investment and technological development efforts, which in turn has generated growing production volumes. It should also be noted that abalone is also raised in private lands, being produced in large volumes (Under-ministry of Fishing).
Farming of bivalve molluscs (Chilean mussels, choro mussels and cholga mussels, and the Chilean oyster) date back to the 1960s, when they were raised under bottom culture or pole-suspended systems. The Northern scallop was also initially produced as a bottom culture, with the goal of restocking over-exploited fishing grounds.
In the 1980s the cultivation of Gracilaria was started at over-exploited natural prairies or grasslands. At present, the most widely practiced cultivation system is the deep cultivation or direct sowing on sand. However, the culture of Gracilaria on suspended ropes in shallow estuarine zones has emerged in recent years.
Semi-intensive aquaculture allowed a greater yield of cultivation areas, a better growth and a larger production of oysters and mussels, which began to be developed in suspended systems such as rafts and long-lines. On of the first species to be thus cultured, was the Pacific oyster due to its demand in external markets. Oyster seed is produced in hatcheries under controlled intensive conditions; part of it is supplied to oyster culture farms and the remainder is exported. Since 1994, the production of this exotic oyster is of the order of 1 130 tonnes, exceeding that of the native oyster, which reaches only 149 tonnes and is exclusively for internal consumption. The harvest of Pacific oyster reached 1 831 tonnes in 2004 and exports reached 1 077 tonnes; however, it must be underlined that production data for 2004 is still preliminary. The prevailing culture system is the long-line. Centres are distributed mainly in Regions IV and X.
In this last region, red abalone is also cultivated semi-intensively and at an experimental stage. The Ongrowing stage is carried in floating containers out in sea containers, seed being produced within the country. In 1998, two hatcheries produced seed for four on-growth farms, the largest one being a pond cultivation system located in Region V.
Region IV, in central Chile, is notable for its scallop culture industry, which produces the native Northern scallop. In 1999, scallop farms, mostly located in Regions III and IV, harvested 20 668 tonnes, positioning Chile, according to FAO, as the third scallop producer in the world (Basulto, 2003). However, this industry depends on natural settling of wild seed, which produces significant variations in production due to environmental problems, such as the “El Niño” phenomenon.
Intensive aquaculture systems generate the largest returns on export sales. Salmon is the single most important species cultured under intensive systems: breeding and smolt rearing are carried out on land facilities, while Ongrowing takes place at sea in floating seacages or pens. There are approximately 200 salmon farms, most of them highly intensive in terms of capital and technology. The latter continues to be deployed to attain a greater control of the involved processes (sanitation and recirculation of water, control of diseases, etc.). Land-based intensive aquaculture systems correspond to smaller trout farm operations, and to a lesser extent, to abalone production. Salmonid yearlings are reared in floating cages in freshwater environments such as lakes and rivers, while the Ongrowing stage is conducted in marine environments.
In 2003, of the total number of aquaculture operations, 358 produced fish with an annual production of 488 653 total tonnes, of which 488 231 tonnes correspond to salmon, and the rest to turbot. The cultivation of this exogenous species, whose full culture cycle is carried out in land-based tanks, is starting to develop at a fast pace: exports amounted to of 1 tonne in 1991, and increased to 249 in 2004. With regards to molluscs, abalone is also one of the fastest growing activities and is also carried out in land-based facilities. Ongrowing in sea cages is still at an experimental phase. Intesive aquaculture, carried out on a large scale, is mostly intended for exports.
On a global scale, fish and scallop cultivation is carried out mostly at an industrial scale, while the production of mussels and algae is of a smaller to medium-scale. However, mussel production has registered an important growth over the last two years.
The total exports of the Chilean aquaculture production grew from 64 595 tonnes in 1993 to 430 976 tonnes in 2004, with a value of US$1 581 444 thousand dollars.
The greatest aquaculture production corresponds to salmon, representing over 80 percent of the harvest volume from the year 2000 onwards. In terms of volume, the most important species is the Atlantic salmon, followed by rainbow trout and coho salmon. The contribution of Gracilaria has decreased from 8 percent in 2000 to 2.8 percent in 2004, while the chorito mussel has increased from 5 to 11.2 percent.
In relation to export volume and values, Atlantic salmon is also the most important species, registering a significant growth with respect to the other salmon species in the last years. The relation between rainbow trout and coho salmon production has been more or less similar between 1997 and 2004, although the last two years trout has registered a significant increase.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Chile according to FAO statistics:
As has been already mentioned, cultivation species with commercial success in Chile are those oriented towards export and with high demand in the international market.
Exports derived from aquaculture, represented mainly by salmon, had an accelerated increase in volume (tonnes) since 1999 after the initial good results obtained in 1998–1999. In the latter period, total income increased, despite a small decrease in exported tonnes. This led producers to increase their harvestable production in later years, resulting in an over-supplied market incapable of absorbing it completely. This is reflected in the stabilization of the value of exports (USD) from 2000 to 2002 at about US$1 050 million, notwithstanding that between 2003 and 2004 the export value showed a positive tendency, reaching approximately US$1 468 million in the latter year.
During 2004 the destination markets for exports varied according to the products’ elaboration lines. In the case of frozen presentations, Japan is the first buying country, with 56.7 percent, followed by the USA (12.5 percent) and the European Union (10.4 percent). For fresh-refrigerated products, the main destination country was the USA with 86.2 percent followed by other countries. After the decrease in prices in Japan and the USA, the opening of new markets in Latin America and the European Union is expected, as a consequence of the signing of the Free Trade Agreements.
In the years 2003–2004, around 45 salmon companies operated at the national level, of which seven concentrated 50 percent of total shipments abroad. This group is made up of local (app. 65 percent) and foreign investors. In the last years, there has been a series of ownership changes in the industry, mainly as a consequence of protectionist measures in other producing countries (dumping accusations) and due to the significant drop in international prices for the main exported seafood products of the Chilean industry. As a consequence, the main strategy adopted by the industry was oriented towards generating larger production volumes and diversifying products and the search for new markets. This strategy implied that some small businesses were absorbed by larger ones with presence in international markets.
On the other hand, Chile imports eggs for its salmon culture industry, although most of the production is based on eggs produced nationally (82 percent of the total available eggs) (Summary of Aquaculture and Fisheries in Chile, 2003). As of 2001, total imports of eggs have significantly decreased, reaching 50 million in 2003, as a result of the sanitary policy established in 2001. The origin of the eggs are Northern European countries (Denmark, Scotland, Irleland, Norway), as well as the United States. In the case of scallops, the main destination market is the European Union, which absorbs approximately 98 percent of the total exported. The other markets are the United States, Japan and Latin America. The main destination markets for Pacific oysters are Japan, Taiwan, China and Singapore. With respect to internal markets, of a lesser importance for the country in terms of volume, are the Gacilaria (pelillo) algae (Gracilaria sp) and chorito mussels.
Gracilaria has shown a decrease in production, from 102 thousand tonnes in 1997 to 39 thousand in 2003, and with preliminary numbers in 2004 close to 19 500 tonnes, although it has had a very irregular behaviour during the period, with a decreasing trend over the last five years. This has also resulted from the cyclical fluctuations of its international price, but is also due to biological problems affecting production (Pizarro and Santelices, 1993; Basulto, 2003). Gracilaria produced in the North is exported as dry algae, while the one grown in the South is marketed internally to agar-agar and colagar production plants to be exported as an added-value product. Chile became the world’s largest Gracilaria producer as well as of its agar-agar derivates (Basulto, 2003).
The “Chorito” mussel is one of the most important aquaculture products in the domestic market. Notwithstanding, exports have increased significantly in the last two years, focused towards Latin America and the European Union. Chorito mussel production reached 77 thousand tonnes in 2004, corresponding to 11.2 percent of the total national aquaculture production.
Despite the importance of the Chilean oyster in the 1960s and 70s, production levels have remained relatively low due to the priority assigned to the Pacific oyster, which has a much higher value in the international market. This is also the main reason why the cultivation of other indigenous mytilids such as the Cholga mussel (A. ater) and and the Chilean mussel (C. chorus) has not been developed.
Aquaculture in Chile is oriented mainly to the production of fish, molluscs and algae for international markets and has been one of the primary activities that has shown the greater growth in past years. In 1993, exports of aquaculture products represented 28 percent of the total volume exported by the sector, figure that reached 33 percent in 2004.
In a general context, fisheries exports have contributed to the national economy with figures that range between 12 percent and 13 percent throughout the last decade. However, during 2004, it represented only 8 percent, due mainly to substantial increases in other areas of the economy, such as mining and industry, the first of which doubled its exports as compared to 2003.
In geographical terms, this activity has developed mostly in rural areas, which has generated an important economic growth in some extreme areas of Chile, especially Regions X and XI. The over 2 400 aquaculture production units provide direct employment to 24 800 people and indirect employment to 9 800 people.
The development of the aquatic sector in Chile was achieved within a framework of a social market economy. Even though important social and economic benefits can be recognised 24 years after intensive aquaculture in Chile began to develop, it is still necessary to achieve advances in the sustainable use of the environment and to ensure equitable access to the activity in order to attain its overall sustainable development. Though progress has been made through the promulgation of several laws and regulations, the challenge for their full implementation still persists.
From the sanitary point of view, the State, through the National Fisheries Service, has emphasised the enforcement of the sanitary measures required by the external markets and to safeguard the national health through the conditioning of the presentation of sanitary certification of all hydrobiological species that are imported into the country.
The private sector is organised around trade organisations; noteworthy for their integration are the salmon and scallop producer associations, such as Salmon Chile and the Chilean Association of Scallop Producers, Mussel and algae producers, and in general oyster producers, on the other hand, have not constituted such organisations, except for the existence of the Chiloe Mussel Producers Association, the Cabulco Mollusc Producers, and the Abalone Aquaculture Association A.G.
The salmon, turbot, scallop and abalone aquaculture industries have had a largely industrial development. Oyster producers correspond to medium- and large-scale producers, especially in the case of the Pacific oyster. Oyster culture has been gradually assimilated by associations of artisanal fishermen who have found it as an alternative or income complement to their traditional activities. In the Northern zone, scallop farming enterprises have developed; while in the Southern zone the sector is made up of small algae-culture farms, exploited individually or collectively (unions or guilds), with artisanal or small-scale operators.
With regards to mussel culture, producers are small- and medium-scale, and associations are rare and sporadic.
The administration of aquaculture is carried out mainly by the Under-ministry of Fisheries (Subpesca) and the National Fisheries Service (Sernapesca) created in 1978 and dependent from the Ministry of Economics and Energy. The General Directorate for Maritime Territory and Merchant Navy, the Naval Under-secretary, the Directorate of Boundaries and State Limits, and the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA) all intervene in the procedure for the granting of concessions and other authorisations.
In addition to its administration responsibilities, the Subpesca coordinates the elaboration of policies and plans of action for development and dictates norms to implement them. Sernapesca enforces the fulfillment of laws and regulations for the activity; looks after the sanitary quality of fishery products aimed at international markets, exercises the tuition of parks and marine reserves; and provides the official fishing statistics for the fisheries and aquatic sector.
Perhaps the most important milestone for the future of aquaculture was the establishment of the National Aquaculture Policy at the end of 2003, whose central objective is to promote the greatest possible growth of the activity under environmental sustainability conditions and equality of access to it.
The design of this policy considered the creation of a National Aquaculture Commission constituted by representatives of the public (12) and private (7) sectors. So far, this Commission has established and executed plans of action for the years 2004 and 2005. These plans of action are related to i) making compatible the existing instruments of territorial regulation that can be applied to aquaculture, ii) simplify and decentralise administrative procedures for users and the State, iii) elaborate a statute particular to small-scale aquaculture, iv) evaluate and propose alternatives to the current patent and expiry regime, v) strengthen the environmental and sanitary enforcement of the activity, and vi) elaborate a diagnosis for research and technological transfer associated to aquaculture (current mind map and priority needs map).
This public and private participation instance has contributed significantly to the articulation of the existing capacities, and especially to the increase of trust among the different sectors that participate in the activity. More details on the activities and results of the National Aquaculture Commission can be found in the webpage of the Under-secretary of Fisheries (www.subpesca.cl ).
Every activity involving the cultivation of hydrobiological resources is carried out mainly in state-owned leased marine environments, also known as “concessions” that must be authorised by the State through the Under-secretary of the Navy, the Under-secretary of Fisheries, or the National Fishing Service, as appropriate. The kind of permission required will depend on the place where the activity is to be undertaken and the characteristics of the water used, and shall be called aquaculture concessions or authorisations. Aquaculture scales range from the exploitation in terms of subsistence economy to business economy with industrial production purposes.
This activity is regulated by the General Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture (LGPA) N. 18892 of 1989 and its modifications, laws 19079 and 19080, both promulgated in 1991. “In general terms, LGPA subjects to regulation the preservation of the hydrobiological resources, extractive fisheries, aquaculture, research and sports activities, as well as processing, transformation, storage, transportation and marketing activities related to hydrobiological resources, carried out either in continental waters as well as in the territorial sea or exclusive economic zone and adjacent areas with national jurisdiction.”
Since 1997, prior to their execution, all aquaculture projects have been subjected to multi-sector environmental impact assessments in conformance with Basic Law on the Environment (LBMA) and the Rules and Regulations for the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA). In 2001, the Environmental Rules and Regulations for Aquaculture (RAMA) were promulgated, which established specific requirements for the environmentally sustainable development of aquaculture projects, allowing for the prevention, mitigation and remedy of associated impacts. In turn, sanitary issues have been incorporated into the Sanitary Rules and Regulations for Aquaculture (RESA), promulgated in early 2002.
For more information on aquaculture legislation in Chile please click on the following link:
National Aquaculture Legislation Overview - Chile
The development of aquaculture has allowed for the creation of universities and technical centres for the study of aquaculture, as well as the training of professionals, technicians and labourers. The first careers created before the 1970s were the university studies of Veterinarian Medicine, Marine Biology, Oceanography and Fisheries Engineering (Basulto, 2003).
Nowadays, eight universities or technical institutions offer studies on Aquaculture Engineering and four on Fisheries and/or Aquaculture Engineering, ten offer Marine Biology studies, eight offer aquaculture related Biological careers, five have Veterinarian Medicine, three have Biotechnological Engineering (of recent appearance), five have environmental related engineering careers, one offers the degree in Oceanography, and one in Oceanic Civil Engineering.
Regarding technical degrees, six universities or institutions offer the degree of Technician in Aquaculture, in Aquatic Resources or in Fisheries. As post-graduate training, there are five Master’s Degrees on Marine Sciences, two of which are in Aquaculture; one is related to Veterinarian Medicine, and one to Oceanography. There is also a Master’s Degree on Environment. With respect to doctoral studies, there are four PhDs in Sciences (two of which focus in Ecology, one in Oceanography, and one in Microbiology) and two on Biotechnology. Most of these universities also carry out aquaculture research.
In the 1990s, the State created several kinds of financial instruments and common funds to finance research, development, and technology transfer programmes and projects, related to aquaculture. The State has invested approximately US$50 million in projects related to the activity. Bidding projects have centred on reproductive biology, physiology, and genetics. An important number of projects have been associated to the diversification of cultured species, the creation or adaptation of cultivation technologies, diet improvement, diagnosis protocols and disease treatment, as well as technology transfer. As a result, today there are approximately thirty species at the experimental or pilot stage.
The Fisheries Research Fund (FIP) is amongst the main financial instruments that help define research priorities through annual fisheries and aquaculture programmes. Its resources are obtained through annual fisheries and aquaculture patents. The implementation of the programmes is through projects publicly bided. Other important funding sources are: the National Promotional Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDEF), the Fund for Development and Innovation (FDI), Fund for Science and Technology (FONDECYT), National Fund for Regional Development (FNDR), National Fund for Technological and Productive Development (FONTEC) and Technical Cooperation Service (SERCOTEC). Except for FONDECYT, these financial instruments require the active participation and co-financing of the private sector. The FONDECYT bids for funds of a more academic research nature and promotes the association and participation of researchers through common funds.
In relation to research institutions, there are private institutions such as the Salmon Technological Institute (INTESAL), which depends on the Salmon and Trout Producers’ Association, who apply for funding to the above mentioned funds in association with Universities and Institutes, and the Science for Life Institute. Among State or State-derived institutes is the Fisheries Promotion Institute (IFOP) (www.ifop.cl), of national scope; though smaller but also with national coverage, is Fundación Chile (created in 1976); and Fundación Chinquihue (www.chileaustral.cl), located in Region X.
The challenge for the development of Chilean aquaculture will depend on the progress and advances by the productive sector, the public institutions and the overall Chilean society.
The challenges for the country in the future are related to the improvement and environmental sustainability of the productive process, stable availability of inputs such as seed, foodstuffs and vaccines, products quality assurance according to international standards, increases in the added value of aquaculture products, opening of new markets, progress on the culture of new species, availability of more cultivation areas. With respect to new markets, a good alternative is the development of the national market, whose current per capita consumption of aquatic products reaches only 7.5 Kg per capita per year.
With regards to appropriate areas for aquaculture, it is considered that there exists a high growth potential for industrial aquaculture, small-scale aquaculture. As for the use of new areas, such as those available in Region XI, until present it had proved difficult to implement or open up for cultivation. This is due to the fact that considerable investments as well as the development of access roads, ports, communications, infrastructure and services for processing and storage are required, in addition to contracting and transferring trained human resources.
The evolution presented by the global market for aquaculture products has awakened a growing public and private interest for developing the cultivation of new species. Thus, species grown experimentally have increased their production level to values close to or below 2 tonnes/year, as is the case of the Northern river shrimp (Cryphiops caementarius), the Japanese abalone (Haliotis discus hannai), and the red sea urchin (Loxechinus albus).
With respect to public institutions, it will be necessary to improve territorial regulations and improve the cartography for the territorial administration of concessions, to simplify administrative procedures and decentralise and increase the resources allotted to public institutions, improve financing mechanisms for development, strengthen trade associations and improve their participation mechanisms, and review the value of access as well as the overall performance of the sector.
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