The first organic eggs have been delivered from Ensenada. Photo: Benchmark Genetics Chile.

Chile’s first homegrown organic salmon eggs delivered to Cooke

The first batch of certified organic Atlantic salmon eggs produced in Chile have been delivered to Cooke Aquaculture Chile by Benchmark Genetics.

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The eyed eggs were harvested at Benchmark’s bio-secure facility in Ensenada and are certified as organic according to the European Union standard.

Pablo Mazo, general manager of Benchmark Genetics Chile, told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert, that the certification is not only important for the company, but also for salmon production in Chile, since it is aligned with the improved sustainability the industry must achieve if it is to keep its market share.

Pablo Mazo: This allows us to differentiate ourselves.

Three-month process

“To certify ourselves, we follow a series of requirements that the farmer and the egg must meet,” said Mazo.

“In our case, three months before the spawner is spawned, it has to be in an organic production scheme. To do this, we prepare a group of broodstock - males and females - to comply with what is required, such as, for example, lower farming density, limited use of drugs, food with the same certification, segregation, traceability, among other characteristics.”

Mazo said it was positive to see salmon producing companies in Chile opting for this type of production.


“And it puts us in the same standard that the company has in Iceland and Norway, since those operations also have the certification. This allows us to be an alternative among egg producers in Chile, it allows us to differentiate ourselves, establishing a high production standard and supporting the salmon farming industry in complying with sustainability-oriented parameters.”

Mazo added: “We have scheduled a second production of organically certified eggs for September this year and will continue with a stable quarterly production regime starting in 2023. This is not the total of our production; it is a fraction.

“However, there are other companies that have shown interest in evaluating the certification and the demand could eventually grow. But equally, we will maintain our constant production of Atlantic salmon eggs, with all the quality, biosafety and genetic improvement that characterises Benchmark Genetics.”

Very good quality eggs

He emphasised the success of this first organic egg production experience. “It was an important lot, with very good quality eggs. There are always indicators to improve, but it was a very interesting challenge that left us with great lessons for the next production.”

To qualify as organic when harvested, salmon must be kept at a lower density than standard fish and farmers must adhere to other rules, including limiting the type and frequency of lice treatments.

Around a third of the farms that Canadian-owned Cooke operates in Scotland are organic, making it the UK’s biggest organic salmon producer.