The southern Chilean region of Punta Arenas is remote and sparsely populated but home to small and scattered fishing communities, herding communities and a handful of small towns. Employment is limited, so the youth population is small — college-age students and workers head north for better wages and broader opportunities.
In this context, Norwegian fish farming company Cermaq is developing a salmon farm. The hatchery, farm and packing plant are expected to significantly increase the company’s operations — two thirds of Cermaq’s workforce are already in Chile, though farther north, representing over 2000 jobs.
Employment opportunities in the fishing industry may play a positive role in supporting community cohesion, keeping young workers in Punta Arenas. However, the fishing industry poses certain challenges to human rights as well. The Chilean fishing industry has been struck by catastrophic fish disease epidemics, which hit artisanal fishermen hardest when fish stocks are destroyed. Additionally, fishing is a seasonal industry, and whether seasonal work is sufficient to support livelihoods requires investigation.
NomoGaia is working closely with Cermaq to predict and mitigate negative human rights impacts and reinforce positives as the company expands operations to Punta Arenas.