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A Deep Dive into the Thriving Commercial Fishing Industry in Chile

by | Jan 21, 2024

With its extensive coastline stretching over 6,400 kilometers, Chile boasts one of the most lucrative commercial fishing industries globally. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the depths of the commercial fishing industry in Chile, exploring its size, value, foreign direct investment, workforce, government support, and export prowess.

Catch Size and Value

The commercial fishing industry in Chile is a powerhouse, reeling in an impressive quantity of fish annually. According to recent data, Chile’s total fish catch surpasses 4 million metric tons, making it a significant player in global seafood production. This output is a testament to the rich marine biodiversity along Chile’s coast, featuring species like anchovies, hake, and salmon.

In terms of value, the Chilean fishing industry contributes substantially to the country’s economy. The estimated market value of the catch exceeds billions of dollars, reflecting not only the volume but also the high demand for Chilean seafood in international markets.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the commercial fishing industry in Chile

Chile’s commercial fishing sector has attracted substantial foreign direct investment, fueling its growth and technological advancements. International companies recognize the potential in Chile’s abundant fishing grounds and have significantly contributed to the industry. The infusion of FDI has facilitated the adoption of modern fishing techniques, sustainable practices, and state-of-the-art processing facilities.

The exact figures for foreign direct investment in the commercial fishing industry in Chile are staggering, with numerous global players establishing partnerships and subsidiaries to capitalize on the country’s rich aquatic resources. This collaborative effort has enhanced the efficiency of operations and contributed to the region’s overall economic development.

Figures for foreign direct investment in the commercial fishing industry in Chile include:

Overall FDI in Chile’s Agriculture & Fisheries:

2022: USD 266.55 million (reported by Central Bank of Chile)

2021: USD 151.788 million

Average (2009-2022): USD 182.117 million

Workforce in the Fishing Industry

The thriving fishing industry in Chile is a significant employer, providing livelihoods for many workers. The sector supports diverse job roles, from fishermen braving the Pacific waves to those involved in processing and distribution. Statistics indicate that hundreds of thousands of individuals are directly or indirectly employed by the fishing sector, highlighting its significance as a primary source of employment in Chile.

The workforce comprises skilled fishermen, scientists dedicated to sustainable practices, and professionals engaged in the logistical and managerial aspects of the industry. The symbiotic relationship between the industry and its workforce underscores its pivotal role in shaping local economies. Some of the leading employers in the Chilean commercial fishing industry include:

  • Marine Harvest (now Mowi): Mowi, a Norwegian seafood company, is one of the world’s largest producers of Atlantic salmon. It has been involved in salmon farming operations in Chile, contributing significantly to the country’s aquaculture sector.
  • Cermaq (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation): Cermaq, a Norwegian aquaculture company, is a significant player in the Chilean salmon farming industry. Mitsubishi Corporation acquired Cermaq in 2014, emphasizing its global presence.
  • Cooke Aquaculture: Cooke Aquaculture, a Canadian seafood company, expanded its operations to Chile through acquisitions. The company is involved in salmon farming and processing, contributing to Chile’s export of salmon products.
  • Australis Seafoods (acquired by Agrosuper): Australis Seafoods, a Chilean salmon farming company, was acquired by Agrosuper, a Chilean food conglomerate. While both are Chilean companies, the involvement of foreign investment in Agrosuper reflects the global nature of the industry.
  • Ventisqueros (acquired by Cermaq): Ventisqueros, a Chilean salmon farming company, was acquired by Cermaq in 2018. Cermaq, as mentioned earlier, is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, a global conglomerate.
  • Blumar Seafoods: Blumar Seafoods is a Chilean company that has formed partnerships with foreign investors. While the company is Chilean, these partnerships may involve foreign companies contributing to the industry.
  • AquaChile (acquired by Agrosuper): AquaChile, a prominent Chilean aquaculture company, was acquired by Agrosuper in 2018. Agrosuper, although Chilean, is a conglomerate with diverse investments.

Government Support

Recognizing the importance of the commercial fishing industry in Chile, the government has implemented supportive policies and initiatives. These measures aim to ensure sustainable practices, responsible resource management, and the sector’s overall growth. Government agencies collaborate with industry stakeholders to enforce regulations, monitor fishing activities, and promote research on marine ecosystems.

Financial assistance, subsidies, and incentives are also provided to encourage responsible fishing practices and investments in technology that minimize environmental impact. The government’s commitment to balancing economic growth with ecological sustainability reflects a forward-thinking approach to the challenges faced by the fishing industry.

The Chilean government has implemented various support programs to promote and sustain the growth of the commercial fishing industry in Chile. These initiatives are designed to ensure responsible and sustainable practices, encourage investment, and foster the sector’s overall development. Here is a list of key government support programs for the Chilean commercial fishing industry:

  • Fisheries Management and Regulation: The Chilean government has established comprehensive fisheries management and regulation frameworks to monitor and control fishing activities. These regulations are crucial for maintaining sustainable practices, preventing overfishing, and preserving marine ecosystems.
  • Research and Development Funding: The government allocates funds for research and development in the fishing industry. This includes initiatives to improve fishing technologies, sustainable resource management, and developing innovative practices that reduce environmental impact.
  • Subsidies for Responsible Fishing Practices: Financial incentives and subsidies encourage fishermen and fishing companies to adopt responsible and sustainable fishing practices. This may include support for implementing selective fishing techniques, gear modifications, and vessel upgrades that minimize bycatch and environmental impact.
  • Aquaculture Development Programs: The Chilean government promotes the sustainable growth of aquaculture through specific development programs. This includes support for the responsible farming of fish and shellfish, technological advancements in aquaculture practices, and measures to mitigate environmental risks associated with aquaculture operations.
  • Financial Assistance for Small-Scale Fishermen: Specialized financial assistance programs target small-scale and artisanal fishermen. These initiatives support equipment purchases, vessel upgrades, and capacity-building programs to enhance the livelihoods of smaller fishing communities.
  • Monitoring and Surveillance Systems: The government invests in advanced monitoring and surveillance systems to enforce fishing regulations effectively. This includes using satellite tracking, electronic monitoring, and patrol vessels to combat illegal fishing activities and ensure compliance with established rules.
  • Export Promotion and Market Access: Government agencies work to promote the export of Chilean seafood products. This includes facilitating market access, participating in international trade events, and supporting fishing companies in meeting quality and safety standards demanded by global markets.
  • Environmental Conservation and Protection Measures: The Chilean government actively participates in environmental conservation efforts related to the fishing industry. This involves implementing measures to protect marine habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystems, ensuring a balance between economic activities and environmental sustainability.
  • Training and Education Programs: The government supports training and education programs for individuals in the fishing industry. These programs focus on enhancing the skills of fishermen, promoting safety at sea, and educating industry stakeholders about sustainable practices.

These government support programs collectively contribute to the sustainable growth and success of the commercial fishing industry in Chile, ensuring its resilience in the face of evolving challenges.

Export Sales and Global Market Presence

Chilean seafood is a sought-after commodity in international markets, and the country consistently ranks among the top global exporters of fish and seafood products. The United States, European Union countries, China, and Japan are some of the significant destinations for Chilean seafood exports.

Export sales from the Chilean commercial fishing industry contribute significantly to the country’s trade balance. The diverse range of products, including fresh and frozen fish, seafood preparations, and aquaculture products, caters to consumers’ varied preferences worldwide. The industry’s ability to meet stringent international quality standards has further solidified Chile’s position as a reliable supplier in the global seafood market.

The commercial fishing industry in Chile stands as a beacon of success, combining natural abundance, technological innovation, and responsible governance. The sector’s impressive catch size, substantial economic value, foreign investment, large workforce, government support, and global market presence underscore its vital role in Chile’s economic landscape. As the industry continues to navigate the waters of sustainability and growth, it serves as a model for others, demonstrating that a harmonious balance between economic prosperity and environmental responsibility is achievable and essential for long-term success.






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