New production methods and enhanced fish health boost productivity and harvesting weights in Chile’s salmon industry

Aslak Berge

After a number of years of major biological challenges, Chilean salmon farmers have noticed a significant upturn.

By getting into new areas and using new production methods, Chilean salmon farmers can show growth – in terms of volume, productivity and results. The salmon farmers see improved fish health and productivity. Smolt yield and average growth have also increased. Chilean salmon is now over five kilograms in average when ready for harvest.

“With Elanco sea lice vaccine, we now have protection for the fish up to three kilos. We have also introduced mechanical lice control, such as Optilicer and Hydrolicer,” said Salmones Camanchacas vice-chairman Ricardo García.

“As evidence of this increased productivity, we were able to harvest fish at an average weight of six kilos in the fourth quarter,” he added.

García represents the only Chilean company listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Salmones Camanchaca is separated from the fishmeal giant Camanchaca.

“We are used to waves, not just because we work on the sea,” he said.

Gerardo Balbontin, CEO, Blumar Seafoods. Photo: Aslak Berge

Another company that also jumps out is Blumar Seafoods.

“Blumar is one of Chile’s largest fishing companies, but we also do salmon farming. We have a market capitalization of just over USD 500 million,” said CEO Gerardo Balbontin.

The core business of the group is pelagic fishing and the production of fish oil and flour. In total, Blumar fishes 230,000 tonnes of fish annually. Salmon still accounts for 53 per cent of the company’s turnover.

Salmon results have been significantly strengthened, among other things by seeking new salmon farming areas – not just the waters around the salmon capital, Puerto Montt.

Cape Horn
“In salmon, we are active in all three southern regions. We have 48,000 tonnes in Region X and XI and 23,000 tonnes in Region XII,” said Balbontin.

Farming sites are now located at the southern tip of the South American continent, Tierra del Fuego at Cape Horn.

“We have just started in the Magellanes region (XII), and I would say that has been a major challenge. We have five production sites there. And the experience so far has been good.

The company’s ancestry goes all the way back to 1948. Blumar Seafoods is the result of the merger between the two fishing companies Itata and El Golfo in 2011, and the same year the strategy was laid for entering salmon farming.


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