Aquaculture supplies almost half the global fish harvest, and Chile stands out as a leader in this ‘blue revolution’. A new book, co-authored by Dr. Michiko Iizuka, investigates the rise of Chile’s salmon industry, showing how technical cooperation projects from the 1970s and 80s continue to shape the economy. The authors cover a range of issues including capacity development, environmental sustainability, institutions, social welfare and inclusiveness – and offer lessons to other natural resource-based sectors facing similar development challenges.
This edited volume was launched twice in Chile, on 25 and 28 April 2017. The first event, held in the capital, Santiago, saw national and international stakeholders discuss the latest challenges to the salmon industry. The second gathering took place in Puerto Montt, the capital of salmon farming in Chile, around 1000km south of Santiago. This event was attended by regional government as well as former participants in the ‘Japan-Chile Salmon project’, which took place from 1969 to 1989. Many Chilean counterparts from this project went on to become key players in the private sector – as CEOs, technical experts, and consultants. (See below for the list of launch partners.)
Practical impacts of pisciculture
The two book launches enabled participants to share insights on technical cooperation, institutional learning, and long-term impact – also by means of site visits. One ‘tour’ was to the Dr. Shiraishi Hatchery managed by Los Lagos University in Coyhaique, a city located about 1700km south of Santiago. Established in 1972 thanks to Japanese and Chilean technical cooperation, this centre pioneered the adaptation of salmon from the Northern hemisphere to Chile.
Today, Chilean salmon accounts for nearly a third of global exports, including more than half of the Japanese market. The sector not only contributes to the economy of Chile, but also provides an important source of protein to countries around the world. These achievements are in large part thanks to the efforts of Chilean stakeholders subsequent to the project. However, the initial transfer of knowledge and technology – including the time and effort spent by the 52 Japanese experts who came to Chile and the 28 Chilean counterparts who went to Japan – were the building blocks of this world-leading export industry.
In other words, from a short-term and narrow perspective, the project mildly satisfied expectations; yet from the long-term and broader perspective, the project achieved a substantial success in creating one of the leading export industries in Chile. Of course, not all unexpected outcomes are positive. There were two environmental and health crises in 2009 and 2016. Public and private joint efforts to overcome the 2009 crisis were moderately successful; further efforts are now being made to overcome the new crisis. Overall the launches were a chance to explore both past and present challenges to the industry – while trying to make it more sustainable for the future. For more details see the book review on Science Direct.
With around 50 participants at each event, the launches were co-organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the University of Chile, the United Nations University (UNU-MERIT), the Tokyo University of Marine Science & Technology (TUMSAT), the Japan Fisheries Science & Technology Association, the Chilean Under-Secretariat of Fisheries & Aquaculture, (SubPesca), the National Fishery Service of Chile (Sernapesca), the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO), and Fundación Chile (FCh), among others.
Flickr / Dale C / E. Ableman