“In Norway, you have amazing technologies to tackle sea lice. In Chile, they use way more chemicals”, Oscar Proessel, sales manager of Steinsvik’s office in Chile, tells Salmon Business.
Last week he attended Aqua Nor in Trondheim, Norway, and this week he is spending time with Steinsvik employees from all around the world. The Norwegian company has departments in Norway, Chile, Vietnam, Scotland, Canada, Turkey, Faroe Islands, Estonia, Iceland and Oceania.
At this time, Steinsvik is about to establish a department in Spain, and Proessel has been appointed as the general manager. He admires the Norwegian fish farming culture, and is happy to transfer Norwegian thinking to the rest of the world.
“Of course it is good that Norwegian and Canadian companies expand and establish themselves abroad. It is about knowledge transfer. We need to bring Norwegian values to Chile,” he says.
Proessel quickly starts talking about the environmental issues that come with salmon farming.
“Norwegians has the mentality to make a change, to do it better, and the entire community wants to help the environment, so you are committed to your goal and vision. It is a sincere way to think – it comes naturally to all Norwegians. Everybody thinks ‘environment'”, he says.
In 2016, the Chilean salmon industry used 382.5 tonnes of antibiotics, according to science, research and technology website phys.org. That was 700 times the amount used in Norway.
“Chileans are not as convinced about the environmental problems,” he continues.
The environmental issues attached to salmon farming have been a subject of contention all over the world for many years, especially in countries like Norway, Chile, Canada, China, USA and other countries that export a lot of salmon.
In February, Undercurrent News reported that Greenpeace has launched a campaign against the salmon industry in Chile’s far south.
“We’re trying to save the seas at the end of the world, which are here in Chilean Patagonia and are threatened by the salmon industry. We can’t allow a repeat of what happened in Chiloe,” said Greenpeace Chile’s oceans coordinator, Estefania Gonzalez.
Too late to change
However, in September, the government and the industry started working together to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in salmon farming.
“Lately, the government is getting concerned about the environmental issues,” Proessel says.
Is it too late?
“Of course it is. Lately, the government has introduced several new rules – and it’s very strict about applying them. However, I think change is coming too fast and it causes many problems for the producers. When you change the law each year – again and again, it causes many problems,” he responds.
Better in Canada
Blair Billard, from Canada, was recently appointed technical sales manager in Steinsvik’s department in North America. He is happy to see a very different culture in Canada, compared to Chile.
“In Canada, aquaculture is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, so there is a strong focus on the environment from both the government and the industry,” Billard says.
“The companies are doing a really good job in how they manage their farming practices, to not only have effective, but also sustainable, production,” he says.
Is it healthy for the environment in countries like Chile, that Norwegian companies – such as Steinsvik – expand and open departments all over the world?
“Of course. It is all about transferring ideas to other countries. We need to bring Norwegian values to Chile,” Proessel repeats.
A few weeks ago, Greenpeace launched a new campaign, where they backed a dolphin in Chile’s upcoming presidential election. ‘Delfin Chileno’ announced its candidacy earlier this month to call attention to the need for strong climate leadership in Chile.
Last year, Chile earned $3.8 billion from farmed salon, and more than 70,000 jobs depend on it, according to phys.org. The country is also heavily afflicted by algae.