The biologist Sandra Marín recently gave the talk “How to cultivate the sea sustainably.”

Strengthening the links between the different actors in society, the formation of human capital and the use of technologies were part of the approaches of Sandra Marín, specialist in ecology and management of aquaculture resources, regarding responsible salmon farming.

The academic at the Aquaculture Institute of the Austral University of Chile (UACh) at the Puerto Montt campus and associate professor at the Center for Dynamic Research on High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) considers it relevant to observe how the State has acted regarding events that have occurred. experienced this industry, which positions Chile as the second largest producer worldwide.

“If one studies the chronology of the salmon industry, in the last period two relevant crises occurred that are socio-ecological in nature. The first was the ISA virus crisis, which called into question the sustainability of salmon farming in its broadest sense and was also a milestone for the State of Chile, which is transformed into a State with a much more regulatory role,” he indicates.

He adds that “subsequently, in 2016, a new crisis occurred as a result of massive salmon mortality caused by the occurrence of a red tide event, which meant having a large number of dead fish out to sea. At that moment we realized that we were incapable of anticipating these events, which limits the possibility of preventing and mitigating consequences.”

The academic, who highlights the economic relevance of this industry due to the direct and indirect jobs that are generated in the south of the country, maintained that “we have the complexity related to the diversity of environments in which salmon farming operates. Furthermore, salmon farming is inserted in a space where it coexists and interacts with other productive activities, but also where it overlaps with other non-productive interests such as, for example, marine protected areas or spaces reserved for indigenous peoples.”

Furthermore, she reflects that “when one thinks about this complexity, one can ask what governance model we need to be able to move towards a sustainable future. This governance is currently centralized in the State. This means that there is little room for territorial particularities. It is also sectoral, that is, it does not allow for evaluating the effects that may be caused by the interactions that develop in the marine space.”

The ecologist, who collaborates in public-private aquaculture committees, maintains that “we must also consider that many State institutions intervene in the administration of marine ecosystems and this makes it difficult to make decisions based on a common objective and it also hinders us. “It makes it difficult to make efficient use of the resources we have.”


The UACh academic presents five proposals to move towards sustainable salmon farming. As a first action, she points out that “as a country we must agree on a definition of sustainable aquaculture, especially now that we are going to discuss the aquaculture law.”

“As a second proposal, we need to move towards a more integrative performance evaluation of salmon farming, which goes beyond the spatial scale of the farming center and moves us towards spatial scales where socio-ecological sensitivities of different natures emerge,” she explains.

Marín, who directs the Doctorate in Aquaculture Sciences and coordinates postgraduate studies at the UACh, suggests that the third proposal is related to “how the State takes responsibility for introducing technology into its regulations. How industries, in this case salmon farming, responsibly assume the use of these technologies.” She also adds that “the role of innovation is important. I would like to emphasize that we are quite focused on technological innovation, but we cannot leave social innovation aside if we want to move equitably towards sustainability.”

As a fourth approach, the professor highlights the links that must be generated between academia, industry, civil society and the State. “The point is what is the model that will serve us for the purposes of having a governance that gives us all confidence, that is proactive and not reactive, that is agile in the decision-making process and that considers the particularities territorial”.

Finally, the academic places people as fundamental in the salmon industry. “Today we demand specialists, but we cannot forget that we are facing complex systems that require capabilities that allow these professionals to insert themselves into interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary groups. It is necessary that they demonstrate capabilities and skills to be able to implement the changes that are required to reach a sustainable society,” she stated.