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Survival Strategy Means Jobs Go and Plants Close

CHILE - A quarter of Marine Harvest Chilean workforce will lose their jobs as of June when the company rationalises its production in the region.

The company, the world's leading farmed salmon producer, describes its emergency strategy as “painful”, but the only means of the survival

The decision, which involves 1,200 workers, was taken at its Norway HQ following poor results of its Chilean interests. Many of its sites have been plagued by the ISA virus, infectious salmon anemia.

Marine Harvest lost US$76 million in the last quarter of 2007 and to recover the Chilean business will have to drastically reduce production in the coming months. The South America enterprise has already seen its production cut by half due to the spread of ISA. The depreciation of the US$ has also cause financial hardship.

“This is not good news”, said Cesar Barros president of SalmonChile who justified the decision.

“When margins drop companies must adopt severe to very severe measures” said Barros who recalled that other factors are having its impact on the salmon industry," he added.

Eight Atlantic salmon farms and processing plants in Puerto Montt will be closed by June and one of the processing plants will be sold to help pay for the quarantine costs in disinfecting farms and surrounding water - process that “could take more than two years.

The news has caused great concern among unions. Elias Treimun, union leader said he expects the Norwegian company to adopt the same attitude and conditions as if the workers were Norwegian.

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Ellen Hardy

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