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Chile: Locals support salmon industry but want new rules

Citizens in Chile's Los Lagos region value the jobs salmon farming brings but want stricter regulation. Photo: Salmonexpert.cl.
Citizens in Chile's Los Lagos region value the jobs salmon farming brings but want stricter regulation. Photo: Salmonexpert.cl.

Citizens in Chile’s Los Lagos region value the economic importance of the salmon industry but also feel that it should have better operating and regulatory conditions, according to the survey conducted by the University of Los Lagos (ULagos).

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On Wednesday, the results of the 2019 Regional Barometer survey were presented in Puerto Montt, with data referring to Los Lagos, one of three Chilean salmon farming regions. The study seeks a view of social and political processes from the perspective of citizens of each area of ​​the country.

This year the survey was extended to 10 regions, with universities in those regions carrying out the work.

Good-quality jobs

In this edition of the survey, participants were asked their opinion on the salmon farming industry, based on questions that addressed labour, economic and environmental issues, among others.

In general, according to the data presented, citizens agree with statements such as: “Although it generates problems, the industry is committed to the development of the region”; “The jobs it generates are of good quality and benefit the region,” or “Its economic contribution is essential for regional development”.

But, in the same way, respondents are aware of the problems that salmon farming entails and also agree with the statements: “It has expanded too much and has polluted the seas harming the region”; “The authorities should regulate and control the industry much more”; “It generates great wealth, but that wealth does not remain in the region”.

Dr Gonzalo de la Maza: Citizens have a nuanced opinion about salmon farming. Photo: ULagos.
Dr Gonzalo de la Maza: Citizens have a nuanced opinion about salmon farming. Photo: ULagos.

Different rules

Dr Gonzalo de la Maza, from the Centre for Regional Studies and Public Policies (Ceder) of ULagos, who led the survey for the Los Lagos region, explains that, as regards the perception of the salmon farming industry, “there is a nuanced vision, or with more than one dimension: on the one hand there is no closed rejection of the industry, but instead, the creation of jobs is valued, for example”.

But, at the same time, the researcher adds, “there is an equally clear perception that it is necessary for the industry to operate under different rules, because its expansion and lack of regulation has created severe problems”.

The researcher details that “the data shows that for the citizens of the Los Lagos region, it is necessary to have economic growth, both public and private, so they value the investment, they put it as a necessity. In that sense there is recognition for the industry but, at the same time, they are asking for different conditions for the way in which this activity is carried out”.

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