The AFSPAN survey in Chile was conducted by a team of five young research assistants between 11 April to 6 May. They were able to interview 126 aquaculture centre managers and 122 households in three coastal regions (Coquimbo Region, The Lakes Region and Atacama Region) covering 34 localities and approximately 3,500 km of territory by land, plus inter-regional travel by air. Before starting their actual work the survey team underwent a two week training period including trial interviews in the Valparaiso Region, home of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Photo: Small scale scallop producer in Caldera-Bahia Inglesa (Exequiel Gonzalez P.)
The team began their survey in Tongoy, a typical coastal village in Coquimbo Region, located 375 km north of Valparaiso. Tongoy has a semi-arid climate, with a current population of around 9,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are engaged either in fisheries or aquaculture activities.
Aquaculture in Tongoy is mainly scallop farming (Argopecten purpuratus), raised from seed to market size individuals. Seed collection is a critical activity. Sixteen interviews were conducted in Tongoy covering small, medium and large producers. In addition, sixteen interviews were conducted with households involved inscallop aquaculture. Surveys were conducted in this locality over two and a half days, before returning to Valparaíso by land.
The Lakes Region
On 14 April the team flew down-south to Puerto Montt city in the Lakes Region around 1,100 km south of Valparaiso, in order to survey the most important aquaculture area of Chile, covering territory from south of Puerto Montt city, the capital of the region, to the southern tip of Chiloe Island. Target aquaculture activities for this part of the survey were salmonid aquaculture, including Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, Rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch); Chilean mussel (Mytilus chilensis) and pelillo algae (Gracilaria chilensis).
The team deployed first in Chiloe, an island some 180 km long and 50 km wide, which is part of the last portion of the coastal cordillera running north-south almost all along the country, divided into ten municipalities. The island and the entire archipelago are characterised by its maritime and agricultural tradition and it is home to a rich culture combining catholic religion and local knowledge, beliefs andmythology.
The team conducted surveys in the following municipalities and localities: Ancud (Quetalmahue, Puente Quilo, Mar Brava, Caulín, Chacao, Manao, Linao, Doca, Hueldén, Pido and Hueihue), Quemchi (Quelquel, Quiquel, Calen and Rilan), Castro-Chonchi (Nercón, Curahue Puqueldón, Aldachildo), Dalcahue-Quinchao (Dalcahue, Curaco de Velez, Chuyic, Achao, Castro Tutil, La Estancia) and Quellón (Huildad, Yaldad, Punta Lapa, Candelaria).
After 18 days of work the team was able to complete 31 salmon farm surveys, 30 salmon-related household surveys, 33 surveys for Chilean mussel farms and 31 related households, and 31 farms and 30 housholds involved with pelillo algae.
On 2 May the team flew directly from Puerto Montt, Lakes Region, to Caldera in Atacama Region, some 850 km north from Valparaíso, the last of the areas to be surveyed. The coastal city of Caldera was founded in 1852 as a maritime hub for the mining activity based from Copiapo city some 100 km inland from the Port of Caldera. Today in addition to the port to export minerals and northern Chilean grapes, Caldera is an important vacation resort and the main centre for the fisheries and aquaculture activities conducted in the region. Caldera is home to northern scallop aquaculture (Argopecten purpuratus) as well as to some pelillo algae (Gracilaira chilensis) farming. After nearly four days the team had obtained 15 surveys from scallop farmers and another 15 from households engaged in this activity from Caldera and its surroundings (Calderilla and Bahía Inglesa).
Comments from the respondents
Most of the respondents for both surveys requested to be informed of the results of the survey data analysis and the conclusions reached by the project. The main reason for this was an interest in the solutions or actions that would be proposed which might help to improve their quality of life. The input provided by respondents was generally good, although many farm respondents indicated that information about labour, income and cost information was potentially sensitive.
The survey team was led by Alondra Vega in close collaboration with Allan Gomez, both permanent assistants to this project and also comprised by Andrea Mendez, Carlos Molteni and Nelson Tapia. Felipe Hurtado and Ricardo Norambuena collaborated with contacts and itinerary planning.
Finally, we would like to congratulate and thank our survey team for a work well done! Photo: Surveying scallop aquaculture in Tongoy, Chile (Nelson Tapia).