Civil unrest in Chile hits salmon production
THE Chilean salmon industry has been hit by weeks of civil unrest in the country, with farms reportedly operating at half capacity.
Industrial action has seen roads blocked and supplies held up as customs workers joined in mass walkouts.
Curfews have been imposed, disrupting night shifts at many businesses, including salmon processing plants.
The trouble began after metro fares were increased in the capital, Santiago, sparking demonstrations over mounting social inequality.
One salmon factory at Calbuco, owned by AquaChile, was reportedly set alight at the height of the protests; the plant is close to Puerto Montt, the main salmon producing region of Chile
In a separate incident at the company’s Quellon plant on Chiloe island, also in southern Chile, staff managed to dissuade protesters from looting the site, according to Intrafish.
AquaChile shut down the Quellon site to protect the safety of workers. Six Chilean salmon processing plants are paralysed in Quellon, Chiloe Island, Arturo Clement, president of trade body SalmonChile, told IntraFish.
Among other affected plants, some are running intermittently, others are partially working, and some have resumed full production.
Chilean exports have been affected by the crisis, with customers in the US and Brazil complaining of shortages.
Acme Smoked Fish, one of the largest salmon smokers in the United States, said just 30 per cent of normal fresh salmon volumes were expected to be shipped from Chile towards the end of October.
There are fears about the longer term impact of the protests on exports, particularly to the United States, which gets around 50 per cent of salmon from Chile.
The reputation of Chile is at stake, in a highly competitive international market for farmed salmon supplies.
Above: Arturo Clement
Above: Fish farm Chiloe island