Chile salmon industry swims against current

Updated 07 July 2017

Chile salmon industry swims against current

SANTIAGO: Salmon are leaping in their millions from Chilean fish farms to US, Japanese and European dining tables — but surging demand and environmental concerns have Chile wriggling on the hook.
The world’s second-biggest producer of the juicy pink fish after Norway, Chile earned $3.8 billion from farmed salmon last year — but campaigners warn the environment is paying a high cost.
“The demand for salmon is unsustainable,” said Liesbeth van der Meer, director of environmental group Oceana Chile.
“There is an ecological burden that the system can no longer endure. Beyond a certain quantity of salmon, it collapses.”
She calculates that for every 190 grams of salmon produced, a kilo of local fish is used to feed the farmed salmon. To make the industry sustainable, Chile should halve its current salmon production, she said.
Yet the industry estimates that demand for salmon is rising by 10 percent a year. And 70,000 jobs in Chile depend on it.
Last year, red algae infested the waters off southern Chile, killing other sea life. Environmentalists blamed it on waste emissions from fish farms.
The algae wiped out a fifth of Chile’s salmon production in 2016. It fell from 883,000 to 728,000 tons — most of that exported to the US, Europe, Brazil and Japan.
Chile’s size in the market is such that the fall contributed to a 40-percent rise in world salmon prices. Producers are recovering from that blow. But the president of the SalmonChile trade association, Felipe Sandoval, acknowledged they were taking measures to ensure medium- and long-term stability and to reduce costs.
Separately, the industry has been criticized for pumping antibiotics into the salmon, prompting warnings that this could promote drug-resistant super-bacteria.
In 2016 the Chilean salmon industry used 382.5 tons of antibiotics. That was 700 times the amount used in Norway.
The government in 2007 had to reduce the intensity of salmon farming due to an outbreak of infection. Any further health alerts will hit production, warned Eugenio Zamorano, head of aquaculture in the Fisheries Ministry.
But “if the health and environmental parameters are working, the industry can grow,” he told AFP.
New regulations affecting the fish farms will come into force in 2018 in response to weather phenomena in the Pacific that experts suspect are due to climate change. Compared to Chile’s two other major salmon-producing regions, Magallanes — the furthest to the south — has a relatively good level of environmental controls, without too many fish farms close together, the government says.
With cooler waters, farms in Magallanes use less than 1 percent of the antibiotics used in the other two regions, Aysen and Los Lagos.
“Magallanes offers a possibility for sustainable development” in salmon farming, said Zamorano.
The government’s aim, he said, is “to generate sustainable development of an economic activity that generates jobs and revenues.”


Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”