Already when I arrived in Puerto Montt and was on my bike on the way towards Chiloe, I got aware of this strong smell: Fish. On the way to the campsite in Panitao, I also saw on the street in form of fish heads and tails, where this smell was coming from: Salmon or it left overs.
The area south of Puerto Montt including the island of Chiloe is the Salmon-Eldorado of Chile. Or maybe I should say, it was. Regarding the Lonely Planet, massive aqua farming of Salmon has started in this area in the middle of 1980s. And this with use of huge amounts of Antibiotics and other chemicals. Lonely Planet and others write that for 1kg of Salmon up to 4kg of wild fish in form of processed food is needed. In this way Chile had gotten to be the second largest Salmon producer after Norway.
In the year 2007, a highly contagious infection has been discovered which killed a lot of the Salmon in those farms. Which of course asked for even stronger use of medicines with huge impact also on the wild water life in the area. There seems to be bigger group of people here which believe, that this illness was introduced consciously by Norwegians to get rid of unwanted competition… So, If you are Norwegian, it probably would be better not to travel to here or at least to not let them know where you are from ;-).
The Salmon industrie is still very present on Chiloe. However, the problems with the disease had a bigger impact here. I was told that the unemployment rate in Quellon has peaked in 2008 with around 70%. I do not know how what the status is today. However, there are unusual many people cleaning the street (looks like a program) and there are also some issues with alcohol. So life is for sure not easy here nowadays…
Informationen regarding sustainable fishing (MSC) can be found at http://www.msc.org. At the end we consumer can decide which kind of production we want to support.
Terram has put some interesting cartoons online at http://www.terram.cl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2971&Itemid=168:
I very much hope that they will find and follow a more sustainable way in the future.
All the best from Quellon,