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The challenge

Preventing disease outbreaks in aquaculture

A disease outbreak in 2008 led to the total collapse of the Chilean salmon farming industry. As a result, 20,000 people lost their jobs and some $2 billion in export sales were lost. The measures put in place to try to prevent a similar disease outbreak in the future were extremely labour intensive and significantly increased the costs of the industry and led to a loss of competitiveness.

Our response

Boosting aquaculture industry in Chile

A collaborative project between CSIRO, SERNAPESCA2, the Chilean government fisheries agency, the Under-secretariat of Fisheries, the Chilean Fisheries Research Institute, and the Salmon Technology Institute was funded by the Chilean Ministry of Economy. The main focus is to assist the transformation and recovery of the aquaculture sector through the implementation of a new ecosystem‑based sanitary and environmental management system. 

The CSIRO-led and science-based management system is a leap forward from qualitative systems that are no longer sufficient for state-of-the-art industry decision making.

The results

Improved environmental intelligence aiding better strategic and operational decision making

The SIMA Austral project delivers a comprehensive, interoperable information system and modelling platform that provides agencies and other stakeholders with access to improved environmental intelligence allowing them to make better strategic and operational decisions.

The platform is scalable from farm to regional levels and can be used in operational contexts, as well as in scenarios for planning, and in forecasting of environmental conditions or disease spread.

The experience gained in Chile will enable the CSIRO to more quickly build similar models for Australian salmon farms and other Latin American countries. CSIRO has already been awarded a $3 million project to build a water quality model for Storm Bay (Tasmania) and a proposal to build a connectivity model for the same region is currently being considered.

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