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High Prices for Chilean Salmon, but Production Drops

by 5m Editor
25 February 2009, at 12:00am

CHILE - With Chiles farmed salmon production expected to drop between 40 and 50 percent this year, producers here can only hope that the price of the fish as it has in recent months continues to rise.

According to ThePatagoniaTimes, last December, the price of salmon rose 22.7 percent compared to the same month in 2007, reaching US$5.3 per kilogram. If that trend continues, the relatively high prices could help offset at least some of the industry’s projected losses.

This year’s expected production drop results from an ongoing outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), a highly contagious virus that first appeared in Chile in mid 2007. Since then the disease has continued to spread throughout the country’s southern salmon farming regions, forcing the closure of numerous salmon farms and processing plants, says ThePatagoniaTimes. The closures in turn led to an estimated 7,500 layoffs. Thousands more job cuts are expected in the coming months.

Because of the ISA situation, producers have been harvesting their salmon prematurely, processing them, in other words, before they have a chance to contract the illness. The premature harvests actually led to record exports in 2008, when the Chilean salmon industry sold more than US$2.4 billion worth of fish, according to Instituto de Fomento Pequero.

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