“Luckily, we are not a country where the most acute impacts will be”

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Kate Casey

Alejandro Buschmann, director of I-Mar, the Ocean Studies Centre of the Universidad de Los Lagos in Puerto Montt, Chile, José Luis Iriarte, oceanographer and faculty researcher from the Universidad Austral de Chile, and Adolfo Alvial, general manager of Intesal, the Salmon Technical Institute of Chile’s Salmon Farming Association, gave their opinions on how local aquaculture is being affected by global climate change. Although Chile in general is already feeling the effects of climate change, Iriarte explains that they are more gradual than other points on the globe thanks to the tremendous contiguous ocean mass that sustains the country’s coast. The ocean has a high absorption capacity of temperature, which somewhat neutralizes any abrupt temperature fluctuation. “The effect of atmospheric warming is more evident in the austral region where glacial recedence is clearly accelerating.” Buschmann states, “We shouldn’t wait for the large countries that emit the most contaminants into the atmosphere and the environment in general to minimize the impacts, rather we should react ourselves since we are also being affected. If there isn’t important investment on behalf of the government and private sector to study this problem, we are going to have more problems.” As for Alvial, the rise in the sea level poses one of the most serious problems. “Global warming must be kept in mind for any new installation plans along the coast”, states Alvial. As for the direct impacts affecting aquaculture operations particularly in the south, shellfish and salmon farming suffer an increase in toxic algal blooms, a decrease in oxygen, and salmon face an increased spread of bacterial and parasite disease (Caligus sp. especially).