Marking the milestone, Einar Wathne, president of Cargill Aqua Nutrition said: “Having our own fish health center will accelerate our product development programs, allowing us to quickly develop new customer solutions. We will be able to dig much deeper into the primary diseases and combat the risks they create for salmon producers, and also apply our learnings across multiple species of fish.”
“Proper fish nutrition is an excellent tool to help control disease,” added Simon Wadsworth, global fish health manager for Cargill Aqua Nutrition. “A fish consumes some 30,000 pellets in its lifetime and that means there are the same number of opportunities to manage the specimens – with no manipulation – to help the sustainability of the industry.”
Scientists at the centre aim to create tools and additional controls to fight the two major health challenges in the salmon industry - sea lice and SRS, which is caused by a bacterium responsible for 79 percent of the mortality of salmon and the main reason for antibiotics use in Chile.
Meanwhile, Felipe Sandoval, president of the Association of Chilean Salmon Industry (Salmonchile), stressed the need for the industry to become more sustainable in order to improve its competitiveness.
"The industry generates more than 70,000 jobs, supports over 4,000 SMEs, and is responsible for 6% of exports…we need to develop more links with the community, not just jobs," he said, before calling on the government to fast-track the process of regulatory change.
Victor Hugo Puchi, president of Aquachile, explained that: “Projects like this support and add credibility to the industry. In recent years, reality has taught us that this requires new ideas, improvements in the production process and new sources of food. The industry needs more science and empirical evidence behind the decisions made."
Felipe Céspedes, Minister of Economy, sent a video congratulating the company for the opening of the facility and urged other companies to invest in R&D in the Chile, as the government will continue to support such projects.
The 2,950m² facility is located in Colaco and made up of seven different areas and includes fresh and saltwater units, an area for incubation and another for fry and smolts. A challenge unit and one for testing sea lice treatments are also being developed.
Currently, the international pathogen analysis firm Veso has leased 25% of the centre for at least five years to investigate infection models. Cargill also has partnerships with research bodies such as the Innovation Centre of the Universidad Católica de Chile and the Universidad Austral.