The Chilean salmon industry has long been criticised for its extensive use of antibiotics. The primary reason for the high usage of these medicines has been to combat Septicemic Rickettsial Syndrome (SRS), a bacterial disease that has hit the Chilean salmon industry hard for many years.
In recent years, growing pressure from governments and consumers has resulted in a strong industry focus to reduce antibiotics. Although this has led to the development of many useful innovations, none of these have resulted in large-scale improvements as they were all deployed in isolation. To overcome this challenge, Skretting initiated the Pincoy Project in 2016 to bring together industry partners from various stages in the Chilean salmon production chain to find a holistic solution. Participants include Skretting, AquaGen/Blue Genomics, Pharmaq, Centrovet, Cermaq, Blumar and Ventisqueros.
The project aims to halve the use of antibiotics on pilot farms by the end of 2018. To achieve this ambitious target, an all-inclusive approach has been adopted that incorporates the skills of the various project partners. This includes selective breeding, high quality hatchery diets, smolt selection, vaccines and the implementation of best-practice protocols and monitoring throughout the production cycle.
This collaborative approach has received a warm welcome from the industry and beyond. “As a farming company, we actually grow the fish. All the knowledge of all the partners in the value chain is coming together on our farms and is implemented there. It's great to work with new and highly i nnovative techniques and procedures,” says Julio Mendoza, Director of Research & Development at Cermaq Chile.
Despite this enthusiasm, working together to achieve a common goal is not without its problems. “The biggest challenge has been intensifying the collaboration and increasing mutual trust. At the beginning, I thought 'we'll get everyone around the table and then the rest will be plain sailing'. But it took months and not weeks until all the working groups in the project were up and running,” says Ronald Barlow, General Manager at Skretting Chile.
The best way of continuing to intensify mutual collaboration is to show what it delivers. “We are expecting to achieve good results in the period to come,» says Barlow. This motivates people to proceed in a co-operative way. Pincoy is a global model project and we’re confident that this initiative will contribute to our i ndustry. I hope and expect that it will also inspire others.”