Christian Molinari

Christian Molinari

Contributing Editor

A native of San Francisco, Christian Molinari has lived and worked in Chile for over 20 years, after having arrived in Santiago as a volunteer and falling in love with the culture and its people. He covered business news in Latin America for over a decade, worked in communications at IBM Chile, and currently freelances in strategic communications and reporting.

Peru ends anchovy fishing season in north-central region

January 14, 2020

Peru’s Ministry of Production (PRODUCE) has declared a premature close to the anchovy fishing season in the country’s north-central region due to the presence of a high number of juveniles in the area, according to a report in official gazette El Peruano.

Peru’s Sea Institute (Imarpe), a specialized technical agency of PRODUCE which advises the state on marine conservation issues, conducted a biological-fishery expedition survey of anchovy in the area between Chicama and Ilo, and confirmed that a large concentration of juveniles persists in the area studied, reaching 97.8 percent in number and 78.9 percent in weight, according to the report.

On 21 December, the authorities put an indefinite halt to anchovy fishing in the area up to 30 miles out from the coast between Trujillo and Nazca, pending the results of the Imarpe study.

The latest move is a blow to Peru’s anchovy fishing firms, which had expressed satisfaction at the higher capture limit of 2.7 million metric tons (MT) for this season, which began 16 November. At the time, it was seen as a sign of recovery for anchovy fishing in Peru. While 2018 was considered “very good” by industry players, previous years saw lower catch limits and subpar fishing production. 

However, following the kickoff of the most recent center-north fishing season, Pablo Trapunsky, the CEO of anchovy-fishing firm Pesquera Diamante, said in an interview with SeafoodSource that the country's fleet may have difficulty fulfilling the large quota assigned.

“The actual catches – the real activity that happens on the sea – doesn’t always go as expected. The Imarpe inspection cruise was done in September and October, we’re now in November. Things move, the ocean is dynamic and so are the fish. We’re facing a different situation than that found by the Imarpe investigation crew,” he said at the time. “Roughly 90 percent of all the fishing fleet is operating in the same area in the north of Peru, and so far this has been the only area [for catchment] since the beginning of the season. The average catch per day for the whole fishing fleet has not met expectations. So it’s complicated.”

Rodolfo Cornejo, the scientist in charge of the survey expedition, said that climactic conditions may have dispersed adult anchovy schools to deeper areas as they search for colder waters near their preferred temperature range of between 14 and 19 degrees Celsius. In contrast, juvenile anchovies are suspected to have traveled toward Peru’s coastline, where the bulk of the country’s fishing fleet operates.

In the meantime, witnessing  the high amount of juvenile anchovies in their catchments, several hundred fishermen in the north of Peru have been protesting against what they see as PRODUCE’s failure to protect the country’s anchovy resources, according to local press reports. They had called for a permanent close to the fishing season since late December, marching in Chimbote, Barranca, Huacho, Ilo and Piura, cutting off access to the Panamerican highway, refusing to go to sea to fish and calling for PRODUCE Minister Rocío Barrios Alvarado to step down.

PRODUCE’s latest move to close the season confirms what sector observers had feared, that many of the fish caught were simply too small, measuring 10 centimeters or less, when the permissible size for fishing is 12 centimeters.

Peru’s fishing areas are divided in two: the south region and the north-central region, and each have different fishing seasons and capture limits. The south region’s second anchovy fishing season was launched 6 August and ran through December, for which PRODUCE established a capture limit of 540,000 MT.

Given the lackluster performance of the north-central region, Peru’s anchovy fishing firms have now set their hopes on a bigger season in the south region. However, catch limits set for the south are traditionally lower than those established for the north-central region.

Further, “the south shows same situation as well [in terms of high levels of juveniles] and so far no quota has been allocated,” Trapunsky told SeafoodSource.

The Pesquera Diamante executive had previously mentioned “interesting opportunities” for sector consolidation, but he refrained from commenting when asked by SeafoodSource about those opportunities, given the hardships the sector is now facing.

Photo courtesy of Sociedad Nacional de Pesquería

Multiexport creating recycling program for equipment used in aquaculture operations

January 7, 2020

Puerto Montt, Chile-based salmon farmer Multiexport Foods is developing a project with Atando Cabos to recycle the ropes used in its aquaculture operations.

The initiative recovers the ropes, which have a high content of polypropylene and polyethylene, that are no longer used in operations. The material is then processed into plastic pellets for manufacture of new recycled plastic products, Multiexport said. Between September and December 2019, the salmon company collected 43.5 tons of rope for reuse.

The project is in line with the fishing company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and the sustainable development of its operations, it said. The project is part of its effort to promote the recovery and reuse of its aquaculture equipment, including nets, buoys, floats and other materials.

In the future, the company plans to incorporate blockchain-based technology for material traceability. With a tool created by Santiago, Chile-based IT firm BLOQS4, the company’s equipment will be able to be tracked from its first use until it is transformed into a new recycled plastic product. The move would make Multiexport the first company in Chile’s salmon industry to incorporate this technology.

Multiexport has a history of industry firsts in Chile. Multiexport was the first Chilean salmon producer to attain group-audit Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification for its aquaculture operation, meaning its products are eligible to be four-star certified as sustainable through their entire journey from hatchery through farm and processing plant, and are given feed from mills also certified as sustainable, according to the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), which operates the BAP program.

In May 2019, Multiexport  announced it would end its smolt production in freshwater lakes in the south of Chile by 2020, citing sustainability concerns surrounding these operations.  

Additionally, the company is in the process of building a USD 40 million (EUR 36.2 million) processing plant in the southern city of Punta Arenas, under a joint venture in conjunction with fellow salmon farmer Blumar.

For its part, Atando Cabos is a partnership between firms Recollect and Comberplast, with a vision of restoring the Patagonian coast and protecting the regional ecosystem. It collects plastic waste from beaches, islands, and fjords and transforms that waste into raw material that is returned to the production chain as long-term recyclable products.

Photo courtesy of Multexport

Chilean government officials call for harsh punishment if fishmeal price-fixing collusion charges proven

January 6, 2020

The responses of market actors and officials to the Chilean National Economic Prosecutor Office's (FNE) accusation that four salmon aquafeed producers colluded to fix prices have been highly critical of the accused parties and supportive of government measures to increase controls, particularly within the context of social upheaval that has rocked the country in the last few months.

Government ministers have called for severe penalties for BioMar Chile SA (BioMar), Comercializadora Nutreco Chile Limitada (Skretting), EWOS Chile Alimentos Limitada (EWOS), and Vitapro Chile SA (Salmo Food) if they are proven to have fixed the prices of fishmeal and fish oil.

“The Government of Chile does not tolerate these abuses and condemns them categorically,” the undersecretary for fishing and aquiculture, Román Zelaya, said on his Twitter feed. He called for in-depth investigations “so that all the weight of the law falls on those responsible.”

Economy Minister Lucas Palacios, interviewed on national TV, highlighted the fact that Chile is the second-largest player globally in the salmon business. High costs in feed have a knock-on effect in prices to the end-consumer and “if there is collusion to increase the price of feed, the effect on the market is clear.”

Treasury Minister Ignacio Briones called the allegations of collusion “robbery,” calling for “maximum penalization.”

“Collusion is the highest crime against free competition, as it attacks consumers and the possibility of accessing the best price and the best quality. At the same time, it compromises public faith, trust, and market legitimacy,” he posted on Twitter. “Because of this, these violations of the law should be pursued and severely punished, including jail time and fines that should be higher than the ill-gotten gains.”

According to Briones, the collusion threatens Chile’s reputation as having one of the freest markets in South America.

“A market economy in which equality before the law is not perceived, when abuse is committed, is a market economy that is condemned to failure. A market economy that does not severely penalize attacks to free competition, is a market economy that stops being a market,” he added in an interview on Radio Oasis.

In light of the 22-page summons by the Chilean National Economic Prosecutor's Office (FNE) made public on 19 December, industry association SalmónChile announced the decision to suspend the four accused companies.

"The facts investigated and then denounced by the FNE undermine the principles promoted by SalmonChile and its continuous efforts to contribute to the dissemination of good practices,” it said in a statement. “We emphatically reject any conduct that threatens free competition, transparency, and the proper functioning of markets.”

The president of the Confederation of Production and Commerce (CPC), Alfonso Swett also denounced the suspected collusion.

“The work being carried out by the National Economic Prosecutor's Office ensures respect for free competition … Giving FNE more tools [to investigate collusion] points in the right direction to punish abuses with maximum severity,” he said. “This is yet another case that’s as serious and shameful as the previous ones.”

The CPC head was referring to other widely criticized cases of price-fixing that have shaken the Chilean market. Some of the most emblematic cases include:

  • In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence against pharmacies Ahumada, Cruz Verde and Salcobrand for illegal pricing between 2007 and 2008. They were fined some USD 20 million (EUR 17.9 million).
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court confirmed the sentence against chicken farmers Agrosuper, APA, Ariztía and Don Pollo for collusion under a cartel that lasted for at least 10 years, ordering them to pay USD 58 million (EUR 52 million) in fines.
  • In 2017, the free competition tribunal TDLC condemned pulp firms CMPC and SCA (Chile) for colluding in the allocation of market quotas in the sale of toilet paper and tissue, setting prices from 2000 to 2011. Fines of USD 18 million (EUR 16.1 million) were applied.
  • In 2019, the TDLC found supermarket chains Cencosud, SMU and Walmart guilty of agreeing to set prices in the sale of chicken meat between 2011 and 2018, levying USD 12.4 million (EUR 11.1 million) in fines. The retailers have asked for lower fines.

“The FNE’s latest accusation of collusion has much to do with the explosion of social protest that has affected the country in the last few months,” Lino Solís de Ovando, content director at Latin America’s most important business journal, América Economía, told SeafoodSource. “A significant part of the ‘bomb’ that exploded in this protest has to do with privileges and white-collar crimes in this country. They are substantial and getting more diverse, and they are some of the most embarrassing and humiliating things that can happen to the consumer.”

Solís de Ovando linked the alleged collusion to nationwide protests that have shaken Chile’s economy.

“This had all the trappings of a cartel, with code words and false names to avoid getting caught by the authorities,” he added. “These situations cause outrage and can lead people to lose faith in the system, in democracy itself which is nourished by the rules of capitalism. This is considerable – it is not a small matter – and it is paradoxical: those who have the most vested interests in making capitalism shine, are ruining it. That’s an outrage. That’s perversion, because they don’t have much to lose and they don’t care about what happens to the rest, and it’s what has Chile in the situation it is in today.”

Given the “seriousness of the infraction, the economic benefit obtained, conscience of the illicitness of their conduct and the dissuasive effect,” FNE has asked the TDLC to levy the maximum fine of 30,000 annual tax units, known as UTAs, equivalent to CLP 17.9 billion (USD 23.6 million, EUR 21.3 million) for each of the three offenders, regardless of their size in the market. The TLDC is currently considering if a penalty should be administered and what the amount should be.

Photo courtesy of Abriendomundo/Shutterstock

Salmon escape from Cermaq facility in Southern Chile

January 2, 2020

Around 23,000 coho salmon escaped from a pen on 22 December at Cermaq Chile’s Caucahue facility, located in Quemchi in the south of the country, Sernapesca, Chile's the national fishing authority, reported at the close of the year.

Sernapesca authorities confirmed a hole in the cage and solicited a head count, ordering Cermaq to activate recapture measures. At the time of publication, just over 5,000 units had been recovered.

Damage to the cage is being investigated and Cermaq is working with authorities to manage the situation and identify the cause of the escape, according to local press. The salmon are of commercial size and the farm had begun to harvest.

According to Chilean law, an environmental disaster can only be considered when the company affected is unable to recapture at least 10 percent of the fish escaped. The law allows 30 days for the affected company to control escapes and recapture fish, and Cermaq employees have continued recovery efforts.

“The zero-tolerance plan must be applied,” read a recent headline of Publimetro, the most widely-read newspaper in Chile, regarding the escape.

The breakout is the third of its kind in the last three months in Chile. At the end of September, 27,400 salmon escaped from a broken cage Salmones Aysén’s Huito cultivation facility in the Los Lagos region, and a similar occurrence took place in November at Marine Farm’s Sur Islote center, in Aysén, when some 20,000 units escaped.

In November, Cermaq detected an ISA virus at one of its pens at the Ensenada Rys seawater site, located in southern Chile’s Magallanes Region.

At the time, Cermaq said the virus was found during a routine sampling, but “there have been no signs of disease or elevated mortality.”

Oslo, Norway-headquartered Cermaq is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation. 

Photo courtesy of Sernapesca

“Delete this email and empty the recycling bin” – summons details alleged price-fixing conspiracy in Chilean fishmeal market

December 23, 2019

The 22-page summons served 19 December by the Chilean National Economic Prosecutor's Office (FNE), accusing four salmon aquafeed producers of colluding for years to fix prices, references emails, phone calls, and meetings to substantiate its allegations.

In the document, presented to the antitrust watchdog Tribunal de Defensa de Libre Competencia (TDLC), FNE said that between 2003 and 2015 BioMar Chile SA, Comercializadora Nutreco Chile Limitada (Skretting), Ewos Chile Alimentos Limitada, and Vitapro Chile SA (Salmo Food) worked in collusion to fix the prices of fishmeal, fish oil, and other raw materials. The actions infringe Chile’s Law Decree 211 “in holding and executing an agreement or concerted practice that consisted in fixing the sale prices of salmonid foods, traditionally known as ‘diets,’ which are manufactured and sold to the salmon industry for the cultivation, breeding and fattening of these fish … This price setting was done by the Defendants directly, by coordinating the prices of the diets, or indirectly, by coordinating the prices charged to customers for raw materials of such foods.”

“To implement the agreement, the executives, normally [the companies’] general managers and commercial managers would make contact via emails, meetings, and telephone calls,” FNE said. The meetings began around 2000, when the accused companies got together to plan how to compete with Exapesca, an organization that groups different fish oil sellers. In that context, the company executives would say “’hey, give me your price list, tell me the price you’re at’ and they began to ask us not to touch certain clients,” Salmo Food General Manager Ian Lozano was quoted as saying in the summons.

By 2003, the defendants were allegedly carrying out the agreement, fixing prices of the diets in quotations and tenders called by the salmon companies. The coordination would allow the accused to determine percentages of the volume of supply requested by clients, thereby moving to maintain the market status quo.

Evidence presented by the FNE includes:

  • An April 2003 internal email with a Word document attached from Salmo Food Commercial Manager Juan Carlos Petersen that reviews each client’s situation with respect to the “pact.” It specifically mentions quotations made “under agreement” and the prices offered by the competition. “Since the agreement was reached, a total of seven clients have approached Salmo Food – clients with which Salmo Food has not broken the pact … Salmo Food is the one that would less lose and most gain breaking the pact,” according to the document.
  • An email the same month from Petersen to an Ewos executive asking for the latter’s price list of several months in order to set Salmo Food’s own price increases.
  • An internal email from Alitec (a company that participated in the pact that was later purchased by BioMar) in April 2003 from the general manager to two executives, detailing the increased price of diets for Ewos, BioMar, and Skretting, using as an explanation the supposed increased costs of raw materials but “this definitively is about recovering margins in a somewhat masked way, but against which the market has not reacted negatively… I think we should apply the maximum increase, since during the year there will be no other opportunity to increase prices.”
  • A February 2006 email from BioMar general manager Carlos Díaz to managers of Alitec, Ewos, and Skretting, asking about Ewos’ price of pigment following a customer complaint of high prices. “I’d like to know directly if you offered something lower, which was not what we had agreed. Alitec needs to raise its prices, since it is by far the lowest and has space to increase … It has been demonstrated that if we remain firm, things work out, as long as none of us play dirty.”
  • An internal Ewos email in September 2006 which outlines prices which Ewos, BioMar, and Skretting had defined for the raw materials: fish oil, fishmeal, vegetable oil, gluten, soy, and feathers. Those suppliers that were able to negotiate lower purchasing prices, could then increase their sales price in accord to what the competition was offering.
  • An internal Ewos email in September 2007 reporting on a telephone call with Skretting General Manager José Miguel Barriga to discuss acquisition costs of raw materials for Skretting, BioMar and Salmo Food, in order to define fourth quarter prices.
  • Various emails from February 2008, March 2011, and May 2014 which urge recipients to “read and then delete this email,” “delete this email and empty the recycling bin,” “do not communicate by email with contacts of the competition,” respectively.
  • An Excel file seized from Skretting which shows the costs of BioMar and Ewos of an extensive list of raw material used to make the diets, in which there is also a comment regarding BioMar’s Q3 2009 price of USD 607 [EUR 547] for corn gluten, stating “they will price it at USD 700 [EUR 631] since the replacement is near USD 800 [EUR 721].”
  • An internal BioMar email from June 2013 in which supply manager Lisandro Encina explains to incoming general manager Martín León that “there is a communication between companies that is done before coming out with the prices. [Outgoing general manager Felipe Ureta] used to do this.”
  • A December 2014 email from BioMar which reveals it knew the purchase price of fishmeal and fish oil from competitors Ewos and Skretting and “this would provide us space to raise prices a bit.”
  • A March 2016 email from Encina, BioMar’s supply manager, referring to Cargill having left the pact. “It will be increasingly difficult to continue the raw materials game with this client. We can continue stretching it but at some point it will snap… [The client] is clearly well-informed of the real commodity prices and it also seems that our competition is selling at real costs and doing business the other way. [This is an] issue for the next coordination meeting.”

Currently there are six salmon food suppliers in Chile: Ewos, Skretting, Salmo Food, BioMar, Exportadora Los Fiordos, and Salmones Antártica S.A. (SASA), FNE noted. However, the latter two firms are vertically integrated with salmon companies and do not sell feed to other companies. According to the Economic Prosecutor’s Office, during the period in question the remaining four controlled virtually 100 percent of the aquafee market: Ewos (37 percent), Skretting (32 percent), BioMar (21 percent), and Salmo Food (10 percent).

The salmon farmers would have a difficult time replacing these suppliers due to the high storage, transport, and other logistics costs, and the short shelf-life of the food itself, regarding imports or integrating a supplier vertically. The aquafeed suppliers have highly technical operations and are located in the south, close to salmon operations, for the same reason.

Because of this, the FNE determined that market entry conditions are restrictive. The limited number of competitors, unfavorable conditions for market entry of a new player, the high level of interaction between competitors, similar cost structures and movement of executives between the companies led to advantageous circumstances for the illicit agreement. “This, together with the fact that this has been a cartel for a long time … prove that this collusion was very difficult [for client companies] to challenge,” FNE said.

Given the “seriousness of the infraction, the economic benefit obtained, conscience of the illicitness of their conduct and the dissuasive effect,” FNE asked the TDLC to levy the maximum fine of 30,000 annual tax units, known as UTAs, equivalent to CLP 17.9 billion (USD 23.6 million, EUR 21.3 million) for each of the three offenders, regardless of their size in the market.

The fourth actor, Ewos, was pardoned by FNE. When Ewos was purchased by U.S.-based Cargill in October 2015, the latter soon discovered “practices in the salmon feed industry in Chile that were inconsistent with the Cargill competition policy and possibly violated the Chilean competition law. We immediately initiated an investigation, self-reported to the FNE in January 2016, and ceased participating in the problematic conduct,” Cargill said in a statement.

Under Chilean law, whistleblowers are automatically exonerated from having any charges brought against them regarding the illicit activity on which they are reporting.

Photo courtesy of djhayazaa/Shutterstock

Peru shoots for MSC certification for anchovy fisheries by 2021

December 23, 2019

Peru’s National Fisheries Society (SNP) is working to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the country’s anchovy fisheries by 2021.

“This certification will bolster the sustainable management of resources, in a global context where consumers are increasingly demanding,” SNP President Cayetana Aljovín announced in a press release regarding the initiaitive.

Along the same lines, the organization received a study from the University of Washington that looks to make the sector more transparent when it comes to biomass measurement, as well as gauging fishing activity’s social and economic progress.

The project – dubbed “Evaluation of management strategies for anchovy fishing” – is led by UW professor and sustainable fisheries expert Ray Hilborn, and has the backing of SNP, Peru’s Sea Institute (Imarpe), and the Ministry of Production (PRODUCE).

Aljovín said that the project marks the beginning of concrete improvements to boost confidence and precision in anchovy fishery management with the aim of improving the sector’s regulatory framework.

Management strategies can help to make processes more transparent with robust and sustainable policies applied over the long-term, noted Hilborn, whose research looks to identify how to best manage fisheries to provide sustainable benefits to human society. His work involves building databases on how fisheries are managed and measured performance-wise, analysis of fisheries data sets, and biological field work.

Photo courtesy of David A. Litman/Shutterstock

EDF, SNP join forces to confront climate change in Peru’s fishing sector

December 19, 2019

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Peru’s National Fisheries Society (SNP) have signed an inter-institutional cooperation agreement to generate scientific information that will allow the fishing sector to be better prepared to face climate change.

The two institutions will look to develop and implement observation, prediction, and early warning systems related to climate change via the collection and systematization of information in the fishing sector, SNP announced in a release. The agreement, signed in the context of the 2019 U.N. Climate Change Conference, is to last three years and aims to influence public policy by promoting the implementation of rights-based fishery management for both major national fishing firms and artisanal fisheries.

“Climate change is a reality and the fishing sector is no stranger to its impact. As such, it is important for us to prepare efficiently face it … To develop management tools that incorporate climate impacts in the country’s main fisheries and thus improve the resilience of the ecosystem and strengthen the adaptive management of species,” SNP President Cayetana Aljovín said.

In turn, the senior manager for EDF Oceans in Peru, Samuel Amorós, noted that Peru is vulnerable to climate change, which could generate variations in the distribution and biomass of resources, increasing uncertainty in fisheries management. He called for urgent participation and commitment from all parties to respond.

EDF employs science for evidence-based advocacy and economic incentives to address environmental threats, in a bid to stabilize the climate, feed the world, and protect health. With partnerships that range from farmers to Fortune 500 firms, it has more than 2.5 million members and a staff of 700 scientists, economists, policy specialists, and other experts from around the world.

Last month, SNP signed a memorandum of understanding with IFFO RS for the former to provide industry input to ensure that IFFO RS schemes are robust and up-to-date, for the standard to further expand and to work collectively to protect the industry’s reputation.  

Photo courtesy of the Environmental Defense Fund

Social unrest in Chile led to USD 656,000 in delayed salmon exports, official says

December 18, 2019

Social protests and violence that erupted in Chile mid-October, including mobilizations at the salmon-farming area of Quellón and at ports used to move harvested salmon, cost around CLP 500 million (USD 656,485, EUR 589,076) in delays, according to Francisco Muñoz, the economy minister for southern Chile’s Los Lagos region.

The protests caused a 7 percent delay in volume with respect to the contracts that needed to be filled, Muñoz told SeafoodSource. Los Lagos represents 34 percent of all of Chile’s salmon breeding, while the region’s processing plants handle more than 70 percent of the salmon harvested.

“We’re not talking about losses, beyond that which happened at Quellón [where there was a five-day strike and some infrastructure was damaged], but there were delays during the month of October,” he said.

During the disruptions, cargo was re-directed at the ports to avoid losses. The economy official said that some 30,000 units were lost due to deterioration at the plants where the workers were striking and access blocked; however the rest of the units were already at collection centers.

“We cut it very close to the time limits in reaching agreements with the stakeholders in order to not lose all that was in the nurseries,” he said.

The protests have since quieted down, and “all has now returned to normal” in Los Lagos’ salmon sector, Muñoz said.

“With the information we have from [Chile's national fisheries service] Sernapesca, services are permanently up and running in Los Lagos and we’re working with customs as well as Sernapesca so that exports can be declared directly, that’s an advantage we’re working on today,” Muñoz said.  “We’re also following up on the logistics, be that via airport, the ports of Talcahuano, Lirquén, and San Antonio, which are the ports used for fishing transport. The declaration of origin comes from Los Lagos, and that has sped up the processes.”

Nationwide, people took to the streets to express disconformity over issues as wide as social inequality, Chile’s overall cost of living, low minimum salaries, disappointing retirement system returns, politicians seen as out of touch with reality, and justice perceived as unfairly favoring the country’s elite.

In the Los Lagos region, one of the demands the workers had in order to advance in negotiations was to be hired directly and not to have their work outsourced under service contracts. Muñoz said that “some of those contracts had to be corrected under the agreements reached with the workers,” taking into consideration monthly harvesting periods and other periods during the year, depending on Atlantic salmon or coho harvests.

“In my point of view, the industry needs to focus more on communication. There is a good relationship with the workers in terms of labor policies and personnel development, but what came up in the meetings was the relationship with the rest of the stakeholders – particularly students that were concerned about environmental stewardship and with working conditions,” he said. “So there was an agreement reached with commitments to artisanal fishermen.”

As a result, the industry committed to have higher stakeholder participation and assessment in the industry’s environmental policies and practices.

“There was concern about contamination of the sea floor in the cultivation centers,” he added. “So they [the stakeholders] were invited to go and visit these centers. The second had to do with treatment of industrial wastewater at the processing plants. Salmon Chile’s commitment there was to organize stakeholder visits to tour the facilities and get to know how the industry works in both areas.”

The official noted that in this respect, technical revisions are performed and samples taken on a regular basis by the companies themselves, external laboratories, and government via Sernapesca and the Superintendent of the Environment. Another issue is the blooming of harmful algae, whose control committee is in the community of Quellón.

“As an industry, we’ve agreed to improve the processes and the communication channels with society, and with this event we realized there was a failure there, more so than the processes or environmental or labor situations. We’ll address this together with the community,” he added.

Photo courtesy of Chile Ministry of the Economy and Turism

Peru’s anchovy quota sizeable, but reaching it could be a challenge

November 25, 2019

The second season for anchovy fishing in Peru’s north-center region has just been launched and the capture limit of 2.7 million metric tons (MT) for indirect human consumption is seen as positive by industry players, but initial results may indicate that meeting that quota may prove to be a challenge.

“This is a sector that depends a lot on volume. There can be fluctuations in prices and costs, but volume will always be the most important indicator to know where this sector is headed in terms of profitability and enterprise value,” Pesquera Diamante CEO Pablo Trapunsky told SeafoodSource.

Peru’s Sea Institute (Imarpe), a specialized technical agency of Peru’s Ministry of Production (PRODUCE) which advises the state on marine conservation issues, “established a large quota and this is great news for the industry. It will be good to regain the value we once had.”

“We’re very happy that the authorities see a great opportunity in terms of quotas. This industry is evaluated on those terms – once the quota is decreased, the value of the companies fall as well. So getting back to quota numbers will hopefully bring us back to our former value,” Trapunsky added.

The executive was referring to the recovery of anchovy fishing in Peru. While 2018 was considered “very good” by industry players, previous years saw poor performance in terms of catch limits established and actual catches.  

However, having a healthy overall catch limit of 4.89 milllion MT does not necessarily guarantee a productive season, Trapunsky noted.

“The actual catches – the real activity that happens on the sea – doesn’t always go as expected. The IMARPE inspection cruise was done in September and October, we’re now in November. Things move, the ocean is dynamic and so are the fish. We’re facing a different situation than that found by the IMARPE investigation crew,” he said.  

Changes in salinity, temperature, and more can all effect where the anchovies are and how they behave, which in turn impacts how effective the fleet is when trying to catch them.

“Currently, we have high salinity water close to the shore, and anchovies are very sensitive to salinity content. Temperatures are OK but the problem is the salinity. They spread out and don’t form the large schools so that makes them harder to catch,” Trapunsky said. “Roughly 90 percent of all the fishing fleet is operating in the same area in the north of Peru, and so far this has been the only area [for catchment] since the beginning of the season. The average catch per day for the whole fishing fleet has not met expectations. So it’s complicated.”

According to the executive, considering the average so far and projecting that to December and January, it would be” very difficult” to reach the quota assigned, with current expectations closer to 80 to 90 percent of the quota.

“That may change, it will all depend on the next few weeks and especially in December and January. So far it’s only been two weeks, so we need to wait a bit more to see, the season will last another 70 days,” he said.

He added that anchovies represent the vast majority of Pesquera Diamante’s business.

“Mackerel and jack mackerel are in the off-season for anchovies. So far this year we’ve caught 25,000 tons of mackerel and jack mackerel and this is basically serving frozen and fresh markets, and a portion of it goes to canning,” Trapunsky said. “But this represents about 10 percent of the whole company’s turnover.”

He added that the company is focusing on improving internal processes and realizing more synergies, such as the implementation of a SAP ERP system to replace more than a dozen applications with which the company currently works. The new system is slated to go live in August 2020, consolidating company information and numbers.

Another area of focus is in revamping Pesquera Diamante’s fishing fleet. The company recently put the ship Sebastián back into operations following a USD 2.5 million (EUR 2.27 million) investment to remodel, enlarge, and increase capacity, and improve refrigeration and efficiency. Trapunsky said the company is in the process of running through the numbers to see which is better – building new vessels or converting existing ones, but that the idea is to continue converting all the systems similar to Sebastián, “which is presenting very good results.”

In terms of the overall industry in Peru, the sector has some “interesting opportunities to consolidate the quota, which is fragmented and in many hands.” Processing plants could also be consolidated in order to obtain more synergies from the quota system, he noted. However, Pesquera Diamante is not actively looking for acquisitions “but we’re always willing to consider any opportunities that may come up.”

Pesquera Diamante, a major supplier of anchovies to the fish meal market, is Peru's third-largest fishing company and has been in existence for 30 years. It earned some USD 222 million (EUR 201 million) in 2018 and it handles about 8.5 percent of Peru’s total quota for capture.

Photo courtesy of Peru anchoveta Sociedad Nacional de Pesqueria

Cermaq uncovers ISA virus at southern Chile pen

November 21, 2019

Cermaq has detected an ISA virus at one of its pens at the Ensenada Rys seawater site, located in southern Chile’s Magallanes Region (XII).

In a release, Cermaq said the virus was found during a routine sampling, but “there have been no signs of disease or elevated mortality.”

“There are 680,000 fish just above 1 kilogram average weight at the site at present. The company will harvest any specific pens that are positive as a preventive measure, even though they show no sign of disease,” Cermaq Chile Managing Director Steven Rafferty, who took the Chilean subsidiary’s reigns in March this year, said. The company added it would work closely with Chilean aquaculture authority Sernapesca to manage the situation, with more tests due in the next few days.

The incident is the second of this type in under a month, with Sernapesca announcing it had notified AquaChile of suspected ISA at the company’s Caheuldao center in the Los Lagos region. The presence of the virus was detected by the authority’s ISA Virus Surveillance and Control Program, and 120,000 salmon were reportedly removed and an exclusion zone created around the aquaculture center.

At the time, the authority said a campaign would be implemented to monitor the condition of ISA at the centers close to the AquaChile site.  

Oslo, Norway-headquartered Cermaq is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation.

Earlier this year, Cermaq signed a contract with Sea Farm Innovations to deploy SFI’s delousing systems to fight sea lice infestations at its farms in Chile. The mechanical system flushes clean sea water with ambient temperature over the salmon to remove sea lice in 90 percent of the cases, without the use of chemicals, hot water or freshwater treatments.

Photo courtesy of Cermaq