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Chile's aquaculture sector harvested more than half a million tonnes up to May.
Chile's aquaculture sector harvested more than half a million tonnes up to May.

Almost 70 applications for fish farming licences have been lodged in the region of Biobio, but some groups of small fishermen and mayors oppose the arrival of the salmon industry in the area.

Four companies have applied for a total of 68 new aquaculture licenses for salmon farming in the region of Biobio. Easy access to ports and airports in this region is one of the most attractive features for companies to operate in the area. Among other advantages, the possibility of developing offshore projects is also mentioned. Meanwhile, some companies would be encouraged to establish their new operations in this region, because there is no more space to grow in the region of Los Lagos and Aysén.

According to the Undersecretariat of Fisheries (Subpesca), Caleta Bay had 26 requests for new licenses in Biobio up to March this year, Cultivos Marinos Yelcho had 23, Cultivos Pelícano had 14, while Cermaq Chile had 5.

Cultivos Pelícano explained that the company seeks to develop polyculture projects in the region, with Yellowtail kingfish, mussels, algae and salmon being farmed in the same licenses, Chilean newspaper El Mercurio reported.

The company commented that this project implies 11 offshore polyculture farms. “Among its most distinguishing features, this project will be operated in the open sea, between 1.6 and 1.9 km away from the coast, in a zone exposed to currents, wind and waves, without considering interaction with the coast directly,” the company said. This project will demand investments estimated at about US$ 24 million.

The applications have not gone unnoticed, because small fishermen and mayors are opposed to salmon farming due to recent events that have impacted the industry in the southern region of Los Lagos.

The projects will be analyzed by the Environmental Assessment Service and Subpesca, as well as by the Regional Commission of Coastal Use, which said that they will evaluate applications considering also the opinion of those who oppose to these initiatives.