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.”


Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

Updated 17 min 51 sec ago

Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

  • Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year

CAIRO: The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) has signed eight research and exploration agreements with investments of $934 million.

Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year and three others during the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla said that the integrated strategy adopted by the ministry to develop Egypt’s natural gas resources has succeeded in recording the highest rates of natural gas production in the history of the country, achieving gas self-sufficiency and resuming exports.

He said that natural gas plays a significant role in achieving economic returns, in addition to attracting new international companies to work in the field of research and exploration in Egypt.

El-Molla said a project to transform Egypt into a regional center for the handling and trade of gas and oil is being planned.

The minister stressed the importance of implementing the national project for providing natural gas to all Egyptian governorates and citizens.

Magdy Galal, EGAS head, reviewed the development of natural gas production rates during the past five years and the efforts to confront the natural decrease of wells.

He said that during the recent fiscal year, the company signed a total of five agreements. On top of the $934 million in investments, there were also signing grants worth $51 million.

He added that the company has 37 ongoing agreements, a result of a Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources strategy, which attracted new investments and the entry of Exxon Mobil and Chevron in the field of research and exploration in Egypt, and an increase in investments from companies such as Shell and Total.

He said the company is finalizing six other agreements with investments of $731 million and $14 million in signing grants.