Striking truckers in Chile's salmon capital, Puerto Montt, yesterday.
Striking truckers in Chile's salmon capital, Puerto Montt, yesterday.

Truck strike threatens time-sensitive fish farming operations

Chilean producers urge government and unions to reach deal

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A strike and blockades by Chilean truck drivers may make it difficult for salmon farmers to meet the necessary times and deadlines for stocking and harvesting fish, the organisation representing some of the aquaculture sector’s biggest players has warned.

Truckers throughout the country, including in the south of Chile where salmon are farmed, are demanding a 30% reduction in fuel prices for six months following a sharp rise in diesel costs.

Security is also among the issues experienced by Chilean truckers, with routes targeted by armed hijackers.

The Salmon Council, which represents four of Chile’s top five Atlantic salmon producers and coho farmer Salmones Aysén, has urged talks between the government and truckers after the parties apparently reached an impasse.

Prompt solution

“We hope that the channels of dialogue will be resumed and there will be a prompt solution to the conflict, so that the strike does not generate further complications in the export of Chilean products to the world,” said the Council.

“In the case of salmon, unemployment (inability to work as normal) makes it difficult to meet the necessary times and deadlines for stocking and harvesting fish, since they are living beings and there are optimal times to do so. In addition, these mobilisations (strikes and blockades) affect the logistics chain in aspects such as supply to the cultivation centres (fish farms).”

The Council added: “It is important to restore safety and that the production chains work correctly. The companies are closely monitoring the mobilisations and evaluating all the necessary measures to be able to comply with the regulations and their clients.”

The country’s biggest salmon farmer, AquaChile, is a member of the Salmon Council, along with Japanese-owned Cermaq, Norwegian-owned Mowi, and Chinese-owned Australis Seafood. Between them, the companies produced 337,000 gutted weight tonnes of Atlantic salmon in Chile last year.

Presidente Gabriel Boric has said he will use 'all the tools of the law' to protect the functioning of the country.
Presidente Gabriel Boric has said he will use "all the tools of the law" to protect the functioning of the country.

Internal security law

Yesterday Chilean President Gabriel Boric, speaking during a visit to Mexico, said there was no basis for the strike to continue and accused truckers of ignoring agreements.

“As President, I have instructed the ministers to use all the tools of the law to protect the functioning of the country and protect the most vulnerable sectors. That is why I have decided that we resort to complaints under the State’s internal security law, we will present a total of at least 27 complaints so far,” Boric said.

The Association of Truck Owners told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, that the strike “due to the negligence of the Government” would continue in key areas such as the Los Tambores Crossing, Regiment in Puerto Montt, Ancud, Castro and Frutillar, freezing the movement of products such as salmon.