What do residents of Chile’s salmon communities think?
SalmonChile, the Salmon industry’s public relations web organ, sponsored a public opinion survey by Universidad de Los Lagos in the salmon communities, and published a power-point presentation of the results. While the presentation did not specifically address whether those sampled thought the industry was good for the region, 75% agreed that the salmon industry had generated benefits for their community and only 7% disagreed. Data on the opposite question (“Has the salmon industry generated problems for the community?”) was not provided.
.In response to other questions 33% of respondants thought that the salmon companies were concerned about their communities, down 6% from 2005, and 35% thought they were not; 43% agreed that the industry followed labor regulations (35% among industry workers) and 20% did not; and 49% gave the industry positive grades of 5 to 7 (good-very good) for the role it plays in the environment, 14% gave it a 4 (passing), and 21% gave grades of 1 to 3 (not passing). 5
Is Chilean farmed salmon good for you? Yes, the positives (omega 3s) seem to outweigh the negatives (contamination). .
Is it good for Chile’s environment? No
Is it good for Chile’s economy? Yes
Is it good for Chile’s society? Most people in salmon communities seem to think so, thought there are clearly problems.
.Here are my conclusions:
1. I like salmon. Other things being equal, I’d like to eat salmon once or twice a month, and as a 60+ year old man it would be good for me. The toxins are in a relatively safe range, and the Omega-3 acids are a plus for us potential heart attack candidates. (Note 2011: Current research suggests that "...for farmed salmon, the cardiovascular benefits are greater than the cancer risks by a factor of at least 300:1")
2. I don’t like what it does to the Chilean environment and I generally support the Seafood Watch campaign, which suggests avoiding all farmed salmon, so other things again being equal, I’d probably avoid it. (Note 2013: Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch now lists farmed Chilean salmon produced by Verlasso as a "good alternative.")
3. But other things are not equal. I live in Chile. I want to see Chile’s economy prosper, and salmon are good for the economy. People in salmon communities seem to think it’s good for their communities too.
So, where are we? Based on what I've learned here I’m not going to boycott Chilean salmon; but neither am I going to be a regular customer. I’ll buy it a few times a year and I’ll support efforts like those of Oxfam/Terram to push for improvements in the industry’s environmental and labor standards.
And for other Chilean seafood, see these links:
1. Ríos, Javier López. Chile Salmon and Trout Report - April 2008 The Fish Site. On line at http://www.thefishsite.com/articles/427/chile-salmon-and-trout-report-april-2008
2. Quiroz C., Jorge Mayo, 2007 La Economía del Salmón y la Necesidad de Un “Nuevo Trato” on line at http://www.salmonchile.cl/files/La%20Economía%20del%20Salmón%20y%20la%20Necesidad%20de%20un%20nuevo%20trato.ppt
3. New Oxfam-Terram Camaign Targets Chile Salmon Industry, The Patagonia Times, Tuesday, 15 January 2008, on line at http://www.patagoniatimes.cl/index.php/20080114367/News/Salmon-News/NEW-OXFAM-TERRAM-CAMAIGN-TARGETS-CHILE-SALMON-INDUSTRY.html
4. World Bank, Key Development Data & Statistics, on line at http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/DATASTATISTICS/0,,contentMDK:20535285~menuPK:1192694~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html
5. Estudio De Percepción De La Industria Salmonera: Tendencias Y Perspectivas, Septiembre Y Octubre 2007, Salmon Chile, on line at http://www.salmonchile.cl/files/SALMONCHILE%202007.ppt
6. Aysen Group To Launch Chile Salmon Boycott, The Patagonia Times, Aug 1,2008, online at http://www.patagoniatimes.cl/index.php/20080801612/News/Salmon-News/AYSEN-GROUP-TO-LAUNCH-CHILE-SALMON-BOYCOTT.html