Stretching over 4,000km, Chile boasts one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. Its rich waters around fjords, channels, and islands are home to unique species, including the majestic blue whale. In addition, southern Chile supports one of the world’s largest salmon industries, supplying almost a third of all farmed salmon.
The aquaculture industry in Chile has experienced explosive growth, with annual exports worth around $4 billion and employing over 70,000 people. However, this growth has come with negative environmental and social implications. The increase in feed and fish waste has led to water pollution and algal blooms that harm marine life. Inadequate planning and siting have also resulted in poor outcomes, while escapes and disease can have adverse effects on the ecosystem. Furthermore, using wild fish stocks for salmon feed puts significant pressure on critical fisheries.
Notably, these impacts have created tension between aquaculture companies and local communities, particularly fishermen who rely on healthy fish stocks. Recognizing the need to improve production practices and strengthen relationships with local communities, most salmon companies in Chile are working towards positive change.
WWF has been at the forefront of this effort for over 10 years, collaborating with industry representatives, investors, government officials, and community advocates to reduce the negative impacts of salmon farming on Chile’s coastal ecosystems and communities. WWF encourages farms to obtain Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification, which minimizes negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems and protects the rights of workers and communities.
Achieving ASC certification involves not only implementing environmental measures but also changing the way companies engage with the communities around the farms. To support this, WWF has partnered with Rabobank, a food and agriculture financier, and the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), an NGO specializing in constructive dialogue processes. Together, they have developed a social ‘toolkit’ that provides guidance, training, and resources for salmon companies to engage effectively with communities.
One of the companies that have embraced this toolkit is Los Fiordos, which has a history of working closely with the communities around its farms. By implementing the toolkit and ASC process, Los Fiordos has strengthened its community relationship programs, resulting in greater transparency, improved dialogue, and more impactful approaches. Other companies, such as Blumar, are also committed to implementing the toolkit.
WWF continues to oversee and participate in social toolkit trainings in the three salmon-farming regions of Chile. Moreover, stakeholders are working together to empower communities to engage back with the companies, fostering long-term results. WWF encourages buyers to support ASC-certified salmon and urges Chilean salmon suppliers to use the toolkit to develop strong, meaningful relationships with the communities around their farms.
To find more detailed information on this process, please refer to the social toolkit “ASC Certification in Chile: Toolkit and Guidance for Responsible Community Engagement by Salmon Companies”.
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