Marine Harvest Closes Chile Processing Plant


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
April 14, 2008

Marine Harvest announced on yesterday that it closed its Chinquihue processing plant in Puerto Montt, Chile, due to the outbreak of the infectious salmon anemia virus, which has curbed the Norwegian company's farmed-salmon production.

The facility is for sale, and about 600 employees lost their jobs.

The closing is part of a larger restructuring of Marine Harvest's Chilean operations, which will continue over the next few months. The reorganization is necessary to ensure the short-term viability and the long-term development of Chile's aquaculture industry, the company said in a press release.

The closing comes less than a week after Marine Harvest unveiled that its global farmed-salmon production totaled 83,642 metric tons in the first quarter of this year, exceeding its projection by 13,642 metric tons. The company's Chilean operations sold 24,022 metric tons of farmed salmon during the three-month period.

The company also announced late last week that Torben Petersen stepped down as CEO of the company's Chilean and U.S. operations, as his year-long contract had expired. Alvaro Jimenez Seminario, currently director of Marine Harvest's value-added smoked operations in Chile and the United States, took over as acting CEO immediately, while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

Chile's farmed-salmon industry has been under fire from the press due to the ISA outbreak. A March 27 New York Times report claimed the industry lacks the sanitary controls to combat ISA.

However, the SalmonChile trade group is fighting back, launching a U.S. ad campaign late last week to reassure consumers that its farmed salmon is safe, nutritious and affordable and produced under stringent environmental and quality-control standards. Titled "The Real Truth about Salmon from Chile," the ads ran in the New York Times, Miami Herald and Seattle Times late last week.

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