Salmon entrepreneur Víctor Hugo Puchi believes it is better 'to produce less but in a safer way.' (Photo: Fedequellon/ FIS)
'Risk factors about to be controlled,' states salmon entrepreneur
Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 02:50 (GMT + 9)
AquaChile president believes that Chilean salmon producers, who have gained a great reputation internationally, have the capacity to meet the challenge of achieving sustainable expansion of salmon farming.
After five years of the crisis caused by the spread of the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus, the salmon industry is facing a new unfavourable context: low prices, overproduction and increased mortality rate.
But this scenario does not change the entrepreneur Victor Hugo Puchi’s view of the industry: He claims that it has a huge potential and offers a significant opportunity.
"If there were six or seven groups in the industry, it would be a tremendous advance," the president of the principal salmon company with Chilean capital told La Tercera.
Among the issues of concern to salmon entrepreneurs at this time, he cited:
- A regulation that defines the efficient and timely management of disease outbreaks that will always be present in waters where fish are farmed;
- The need for the industry to consolidate, given that marine areas for sea farming do not have infinite capacity and that Chile must protect its sanitary health through strict standards on the import of eggs.
In addition, he also mentioned that there are other pending issues that need to be addressed urgently.
One of them is the farming density settings management when there are several neighbourhoods or areas that are showing very high mortality rates. Another one is the lack of regulation of Chilean disease management, such as salmon rickettsial syndrome (SRS) and caligus.
And another one is the need to create firewalls or stretches of sea where nothing could be farmed, so when there are disease outbreaks there are functioning firewalls.
When asked about how much Chile will take to recover the lost space, Puchi replied: "It is assumed that this year we should harvest a volume similar to that in 2006, the last pre ISA normal year. But the quick recovery of the lost volume, coupled with the aggressive growth of Norway, has had the negative effect of lowering prices in the market. "
Regarding the development of a sustainable industry, the entrepreneur believes that the salmon industry must question itself about the sustainable production capacity in regions and areas where salmon farming is allowed, "to mitigate the ups and downs in the biological performance."
"For farming to be sustainable, we have to reduce the frequency of operation of these concessions and/or adjust the productions per concession in a sustainable model," he added in an interview with La Tercera.
The goal should be to make the industry safer, "Producing less, but in a safer way," he stressed.
Puchi thinks it would be preferable to produce about 600,000 tonnes that are "safe," which the industry can handle well, rather than "750,000 or a million tonnes that may pose higher risks." And if the new production model works, the sector would have the option of increasing the capture.
Currently, Chile produces about 700,000 tonnes of salmon.
AquaChile president imagines an industry with less production and with the same "entrepreneurs united under a structure of fewer companies, limiting production in the existing suitable areas and safely growing into new spaces that the State grants to continue farming the sea."
With respect to the first post ISA renegotiations maturities, starting in 2013, Puchi said he was certain that "banks believe in competitiveness and in the industry fundamentals and expect orders are issued for consolidations to occur, that price declines are mitigated and that as to the health issue we have a more protected sector, underpinned by good regulation."
The Chilean salmon industry is out of the crisis, and now it is about "to control the risk factors," he concluded.
- 'The salmon industry is really attractive', ensures AquaChile manager
By Analia Murias