Information on production, licensing, disease monitoring and control plans, and management of the industry are publicly available from the Subpesca and Sernapesca websites and reports. Incidents of disease outbreaks of ISA; SRS, also known as Piscirickettsiosis, and sea lice (Calgidosis) are available from Sernapesca’s annual fish health reports (called Informe Sanitario de Salmonicultura en centos marinos).
Quantitative and qualitative information on notifiable salmonid diseases - primarily Infectious salmon anemia (ISA) - is available through the World Organization for Animal Health’s (OIE) World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) and database. Information on the Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) of veterinary drugs and prohibited substances is available from Sernapesca’s - Manual de Inocuidad y Certificación - Safety and Certification Manual.
SalmonChile’s Sustainability report/database provides individual company and aggregate member information for the period 2013-2015 on various aspects of health management and control (including mortality rate, sea lice levels, and veterinary & chemical treatments).
Information on the government and industry’s zonal approach was provided by a case study in a recent FAO publication (Aquaculture zoning, site selection and area management under the ecosystem approach to aquaculture). Information concerning the environmental impacts and management of salmon culture was provided by a recent Seafood Watch report.
Aquaculture is regulated by the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law (GLFA), which was last modified in 2010 under Law No. 20,434 (Subpesca 2018). A zonal management approach has been adopted based on licenses (concessions); groups of licenses - Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs); emergency disease zones - Macro Zones; and Areas Autorizadas para el ejercicio de la Acuicultura - Appropriate Areas for Aquaculture (AAA).
AMAs and Macro Zones are nested under AAAs. AAAs were first established in 1991 and they outline areas where all types of aquaculture can be developed (Alvial 2017). AAAs are developed by Subpesca via a participatory process involving public consultation. Currently, 12 out of 15 regions in Chile have established AAAs and these have been incorporated into each region’s coastal management plans (Alvial 2017).
AMAs - also known as barrios, neighborhoods, or “salmonid groups of licenses”- were first introduced following the ISA crisis and aim to coordinate disease control, particularly sea lice and ISA (Alvial 2017). AMAs set minimum distances between farms and require farmers to coordinate (synchronize) management and biosecurity measures (Alvial 2015)(Alvial 2017)(Arriagada et al. 2017). There are currently 25 AMAs in Los Lagos incorporating 505 concessions (licenses) (Alvial 2015)(Alvial 2017).
Macro Zones, which may include two or more AMAs, focus on emergency fish health responses and only activate in these cases. There are currently 5 Macro Zones in Los Lagos (Alvial 2015).
Licensing: Regulations for establishing and operating a salmon farm are provided in the “Regulation for Aquaculture Concessions and Permits” (SD 290/93)(Wilson et al. 2009). In summary, the licensing system has three main components:1) environmental by the National Commission for the Environment (CONAMA); 2) compliance with the GLFA Law 20, 434/2009 by Subpesca; and 3) compliance with coastal zone management plans on state-owned land by the Undersecretary of the Navy (under the Ministry of Defense) (Alvial 2017). Licenses are awarded by the Ministry of Defense which gives an entity the use rights to a resource for a period of 25 years (Alvial 2015)(Alvial 2017).
The license application process involves consultation with multiple regional stakeholders and public feedback and takes from nine to twelve months (Alvial 2017). When an aquaculture concession or permit is granted the titleholder receives a certificate, and Sernapesca maintains a national register of aquaculture facilities (Muñoz 2006)(Wilson et al. 2009).
There is currently a moratorium on new salmon farming licenses in Los Lagos which has been in place since 2010 (Alvial 2017)(Cardenas 2015).
The industry receives scientific, technical, and management advice from a variety of sources. Instituto Tecnológico del Salmón (INTESAL), which operates under SalmonChile, as well as research and academic institutions, provide research to inform the industry on the latest technological developments (SalmonChile 2017)(UNCTAD 2006). Advice is provided via codes of best management practices, voluntary standards, technical training courses, workshops, and reports (UNCTAD, 2006). INTESAL has been instrumental in the development of new regulations and disease control and surveillance programs (UNCTAD 2006). Fundación Chile operates Aquadvise – a commercial business unit offering services and advice to the aquaculture industry – and the Techincal Center for Food Innovation (CETA) (Fundacion Chile 2017). Fundación Chile has created more than 40 salmon farming enterprises to demonstrate new technologies, 30 of which have been sold to the private sector (UNCTAD 2006).
Water Quality: The monitoring of soluble effluent in the water column is not required in Chile (Bridson 2017). Instead, the monitoring of sites focuses on the assessment of benthic conditions. According to the Framework Law on the Environment (FLE) No. 19.300 (1994), aquaculture activities are subject to a mandatory environmental assessment by the National Commission for the Environment (CONAMA). Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) can be submitted as either an Environmental Impact Study or a Declaration of Environmental Impact (DIA) (Muñoz 2006). DIAs are used when there is a lower potential impact (Wilson et al. 2009). The Environmental Regulation on Aquaculture 12, RAMA (SD 320/2001), focuses on the prevention and assessment of the aerobic conditions of the benthos and the preparation of a Preliminary Characterization of Site (PSD) for all water column and benthic lot projects that are submitted to SubPesca.
Health Management: Sernapesca’s animal health unit is responsible for management of aquatic diseases (Sernapesca 2017). Sanitary Regulations for Aquaculture (RESA), S.D. No. 319 (2001), have established regulations concerning protective measures, control, and eradication of diseases that are high risk to aquatic species. Following Res Ex. N ° 1741 - 09.07.2013, Sernapesca has established an active surveillance program for high-risk diseases (Sernapesca 2013). Following, Resolución Exenta N° 1141 del 18 mayo del 2012 (updated 2015), a new sea lice surveillance and control program has been established which requires weekly assessments (Arriagada et al. 2017)(Sernapesca 2012). AMAs are subject to coordinated resting periods set by Sernapesca (Alvial 2017). Farms that are producing the same species should be a minimum of 1.5 miles apart (Alvial 2015).
Disease Control: Following initial outbreaks of ISA in July 2007, Sernapesca established a surveillance and control program and issued several resolutions establishing contingency and control measures. AMAs are subject to coordinated treatment and control of sea lice, including the rotation of bath and oral in-feed treatments to reduce resistance (Alvial 2017). Sernapesca has produced best practices on anti-parasite chemical use (in the "Manual buenas practicas uso antibioticos antiparasitarios"). These include guidance on dosage, grace period and administration of a range of veterinary drugs for both sea lice and infectious diseases(Sernapesca 2011).
The Ministry of Health is responsible for setting MRLs for pharmacologically active substances under Resolution No 1462 of 25 February 1999(European Commission 2011). For aquaculture, Sernapesca can apply MRLs in order to comply with market export requirements and is responsible for monitoring aquaculture products (European Commission 2011)(European Commission 2016). Export certificates regarding the sanitary quality of product are required (Sernapesca 2017).
Chemical Benthic Residues: Sernapesca’s best practices on anti-parasite chemical use recommend that farm-level benthic and water column standards for veterinary and anti-sea lice drug levels are established (Sernapesca 2011).
Water Quality: No management thresholds are set for water quality.
Health Management: Health programs for the monitoring and control of ISA, sea lice and Piscirickettsiosis/ SRS have been established (Sernapesca 2016). Suspicion or detection of either infectious ISA or SRS at a site triggers compulsory biosecurity measures (Sernapesca 2016). Resolution 1577/2011 outlines a surveillance and control program for ISA. In the case of sea lice and SRS, surveillance and control measures involve sites being classified as either ‘Alert’ or ‘High Dissemination Centers (CAD)’ (Sernapesca 2016). Sites recording a sea lice load of ≥3 gravid females in the first week following an officially established treatment period are classified as CAD and are subject to mandatory controls (Sernapesca 2015)(Sernapesca 2016).
Disease Control: MRLs for a list of pharmacologically active substances for product destined for Chile, the European Union, Japan, and China are outlined in Table 3 of Section 1 of Sernapesca's Safety and Certification Manual (Sernapesca 2018). Prohibited substances include chloramphenicol, esteroides (17β-estradiol), estilbenos, nitrofurans, nitroimidazoles, violet crystal, and malachite green (Sernapesca 2018). For sea lice, synchronized treatments within AMAs are optional unless farms record >9 mobile lice per fish and neighboring farms within 5 nautical miles’ record >6 mobile lice per fish; in these cases, synchronized treatment is mandatory (Arriagada et al. 2017).
Authorized commercial treatments for sea lice are deltamethrin 1%, diflubenzuron 80%, emamectin benzoate 0.2%, and cypermethrin 5% (Ibieta et al. 2011). There is a maximum of three immersion treatments during a production cycle (Sernapesca 2016). The MRL of these substances in export markets is provided by Sernapesca’s best practices on veterinary drug use (Sernapesca 2011).
Chemical Benthic Residues: Despite Sernapesca’s best practices on anti-parasite chemical use that call for farm-level benthic and water column standards for veterinary and anti-sea lice drug levels to be established (Sernapesca 2011), there is no information on acceptable benthic residue levels or environmental quality standards.
Industry and Management Performance
A lack of government inspection and enforcement efforts was acknowledged to have been a major factor contributing to the ISA crisis of 2007-2009 (Wilson et al. 2009). Following this, increased sanctions for non-compliance were introduced along with an increase in the number of inspection staff (Alvial et al. 2012). Licenses can be terminated due to a single severe non-compliance with license requirements (e.g. such as the culturing of a different species, genetically modified organism (GMO) or exotic species without authorization) or if there are three sanctions over a period of two to three years (Alvial 2017).
Sernapesca provides details of judicial and administrative sanctions levied for aquaculture infringements from 2008-2013 (Sernapesca 2013)(Sernapesca 2013). During this period, there were 20 judicial sanctions in Los Lagos (of 36 nationally) and one administrative sanction. There is no compliance information available after 2013.
Disease Control: The majority of the judicial sanctions nationwide involved violations of health management and disease control measures (Sernapesca 2013).
Water Quality: Site assessment focuses on benthic conditions, with 20% of sites classified as anaerobic nationwide in 2016 (Sernapesca 2017).
Health Management: In Los Lagos in 2014, 18.8% and 3% of sites classified were classified as Alert and CAD, respectively, for SRS/Piscirickettsiosis. In 2015, these figures were 21.1% and 3% (Sernapesca 2016). Infection with HPR-deleted ISAv (an OIE notifiable disease) was recorded once in Los Lagos in 2014 (World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) 2017), as well as 21 cases of infection with HPR0 ISAv in 2015 (Sernapesca 2016). From 2014-2015, sea lice levels in Los Lagos ranged from around 0.5 to 2.1 adult lice per fish (Sernapesca 2016).
At the national-level, SRS has accounted for more than 69% of total Atlantic salmon disease mortalities annually in most years since 2011 (Sernapesca 2011)(Sernapesca 2013)(Sernapesca 2014)(Sernapesca 2015)(Sernapesca 2016). Other diseases of concern include Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) and Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD).
In 2015, the average level of sea lice per fish for SalmonChile member companies was 2.78, which was almost 50% less than 2013 levels (SalmonChile 2017). From 2014-2015, the number of sites classified as CAD for sea lice nationwide ranged from <5 to around 30 (around 1-12%) (Sernapesca 2016).
Disease Control: Nationwide, antimicrobial use increased to 590 g/mt in 2014 (Sernapesca 2015). Florfenicol and oxytetracycline account for 99% of antimicrobial use, primarily used in the treatment of SRS (Sernapesca 2017). Aysen and Los Lagos accounted for 95% of antimicrobial use, while only 5% was used in Magallanes (Sernapesca 2017). Aggregate data for Salmon Chile members indicates that 516 g/mt of antibiotics and 6.2g/mt of parasiticide were used in 2015 (SalmonChile 2017).
The European Commission’s (EC) Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) lists a few recent notifications concerning oxytetracycline levels in frozen Atlantic salmon fillets from Chile above MRLs for export destinations (classified as undecided) (European Commission 2018).
Chemical Benthic Residues: Sernapesca's Informes Sanitarios y Ambientales Acuicultura (INFA) website classifies aquaculture sites as aerobic or anaerobic from 2010-2017(Sernapesca 2017). However, there is no indication of chemical benthic residues.
Trends in Performance
Water Quality: Site assessments rely on benthic analysis as opposed to the water quality assessments. From 2010-2015, the percentage of salmonid sites classified with benthic anaerobic conditions in the immediate vicinity of cage sites nationwide increased from 3% in 2010 to 20% in 2013. This was followed by a decrease to around 16-17% in 2014 and 2015, and 19% in 2016 (Sernapesca 2016)(Sernapesca 2017).
Health Management: Outbreaks of ISA and sea lice have decreased significantly since peaks in 2007 and 2008, and farm performance indicators are now surpassing pre-ISA crisis levels. From 2014 to 2016, several incidents of infection with either the HPR-deleted or HPR0 genotypes of ISAV have been recorded nationally. However, HPR0 ISAV has never been associated with ISA in Atlantic salmon (World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) 2017).
From 2007-2010, sea lice levels nationwide declined largely due to a fall in production caused by the ISA crisis (Hindar 2014). This was followed by an increase in sea lice levels from 2011-2013 (Sernapesca 2013)(Sernapesca 2014). From 2014-2015, average weekly numbers of adult sea lice per fish have remained fairly constant in Los Lagos and below threshold levels (Sernapesca 2016).
Disease Control: From 2005-2010, the use of the anti-parasitic drug emamectin benzoate decreased nationwide, but the use of diflubenzuron and deltamethrin increased. Cypermethrin use was not recorded before 2010 (Ibieta et al. 2011). Total antibiotic use fell after reaching a peak of 385,000 kg nationwide in 2007 (Ibieta et al. 2011). Since this time, aggregate figures from SalmonChile members suggests that antibiotic use has remained stable for 2013-2015 at around 520g/mt and pesticide use has remained stable at 6.2 g/mt (SalmonChile 2017).
Chemical Benthic Residues: No information available.
In October 2010, SalmonChile signed an agreement with GloblaGAP to launch a standard known as SALMONGAP - intending to improve salmon production and processing by incorporating issues such as feed, health, safety, quality environmental issues and working conditions (Ibieta et al. 2011). However, the current status of this standard is unknown.
Water Quality: No information available on improvement plans.
Health Management: Authorities are considering new regulations that would modernize how licensed production limits are set. Under the proposed regulations, producers would be able to opt for either a maximum allowable net-pen density below the current limit of 17 kg/m3 or vary the net pen density limit according to the health status of the fish (without exceeding the current maximum) (Villegas 2016). The new system aims to increase profitability and reduce the costs associated with disease treatment. The new regulations were anticipated in 2017, but there is no indication that they have been implemented. Research into SRS vaccines also continues (Villegas 2015). Under the Under Sernapecsa’s new program for the surveillance and control of sea lice, the use of non-pharmacological control strategies is encouraged but recommended non-pharmacological approaches are not detailed (Sernapesca 2015).
Disease Control: In 2014, Marine Harvest Chile in partnership with Fundación Chile began a project to develop the use of the native species róbalo (Eleginops maclovinus) as a cleaner fish and an alternative to chemical sea lice treatments (Stewart 2014). In January 2015, Sernapesca published a new version of the “Program Sanitary Specific for Surveillance and Control of Caligidosis”. Under this program, the monitoring of sea lice switched from the assessment of total adult sea lice to the number of gravid female lice per fish. The definition of CAD center also changed to mean sites recording ≥3 gravid female sea lice one week after the end of treatment. Sites classified as a CAD center three consecutive times are now subject to the same biosecurity measures as those imposed for SRS and ISA (Sernapesca 2016).