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Chilean president promises ‘world-class’ salmon farming regulation

President Gabriel Boric addresses the Chilean parliament in Valparaíso. Photo: Rene Lescornez / Chamber of Deputies.
President Gabriel Boric addresses the Chilean parliament in Valparaíso. Photo: Rene Lescornez / Chamber of Deputies.

Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, has told the country’s parliament that fish farming must become more sustainable, but also that farming companies must have legal certainty for their investments.

He divided his government’s challenges into five axes: social rights, better democracy, justice and security, inclusive growth and the environment.

It was in the axis of inclusive growth where he addressed economic matters and raised his ideas on salmon farming in Chile, the world’s second largest producer of farmed salmon.

Existing law to be replaced

Firstly, he confirmed that he will take forward new legislation that replaces the current General Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

“We will fulfil our commitment to advance in a new law, free of corruption and the result of an open debate that is transparent [so that] it delivers clear, fair and sustainable rules, both at the industrial and artisanal levels,” stated Boric.

He added later that “in the field of aquaculture, we need to move towards more sustainable practices that manage to integrate economic benefits and inclusive development through the creation of local jobs, with a long-term view”.

“To do this,” he continued, “we must guarantee, and we will do so, the highest standard of protection of the environment in which [the fish farms] are located. This will allow granting of legal certainty for the investment, and certainty about the fulfilment of the objectives of preservation and protection of ecosystems, especially those that make up protected areas.”

Moderated stance

The inclusion of the idea of ​​legal certainty for investments somewhat moderates the presidential discourse that had previously been very critical of the industry, particularly for salmon farming concessions in protected areas.

Boric stressed that “we do not want environmental disasters like those that have already happened in the industry, and that is why we have a commitment to this regulation that has to be strict, that has to have a world-class level, so that we do not continue preying on our ocean floor”.

In economic matters, Boric said that recovering investment requires reducing uncertainty and generating good financial conditions and stated an ambition to get productivity to grow again at a rate of 1.5% per year, instead of the stagnation of the last decade.

Joanna Davidovich:
Joanna Davidovich: "It is possible to make growth compatible with caring for the environment."

Shared need

Joanna Davidovich, executive director of the Salmon Council which represents some of Chile’s biggest salmon farmers including AquaChile and Mowi, took positives from the president’s speech.

Speaking to Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, Davidovich said: “We share the need to strengthen long-term sustainable growth, to reinvigorate investment and increase productivity, with more science and innovation.

“We believe that it is possible to make growth compatible with caring for the environment and it is necessary to do so hand in hand with the private sector, establishing a clear roadmap with greater legal certainty and high standards in caring for the environment.”

Dialogue and unity

Arturo Clément, president of trade body SalmonChile, said: “We share the call of the President of the Republic to dialogue, unity and joint work between the different actors of society to build, among all, a more fair and sustainable country.

“As a union we are available to advance in this constructive dialogue. And we welcome the fact that decentralisation, which is something we have promoted for more than three decades, has been a relevant part of his speech, as well as his emphasis on the importance of increasing productivity, supporting the creation of local jobs and travelling, gradually but decisively, towards being a more sustainable country.”