As has happened in most industries, COVID-19 has brought important changes to the operation of salmon companies. The companies affiliated to the Salmon Council – four salmon producers with extensive experience in salmon farming, AquaChile, Cermaq, Mowi and Salmones Aysén – have implemented measures to prevent the spread of the virus, maintain the safety of workers and farming centers, guarantee the continuity of the operation and support nearby communities.
As an example, workers from companies affiliated with the Salmon Council can only enter a salmon farm following a negative PCR test result for COVID-19. In addition, body temperature checks are carried out periodically. The centers apply exhaustive disinfection processes within work shifts.
Companies have also changed work shift structures to reduce the circulation of personnel, so there is a lower contagion risk. For example, some areas have shifted from five days of work and two days of rest to a system of 14 days of work for the same number of rest days. Each area maintains its personnel with restricted access to the rest of the facility to avoid internal infections.
In the process facilities, teams do not exceed 50 people per work area in order to lower density, maintain social distance and achieve traceability in the face of a potential positive COVID-19 case. Administrative teams, such as personnel in the “risk” area – the elderly, chronically ill, pregnant women or mothers of children under two years of age – carry out their tasks in a telematic or alternate mode.
The efforts have meant that the salmon industry, key to the Chilean economy as the first non-copper export product, can continue working with full precautions during the health situation. The implemented measures allow for minimal impact upon the continuity of salmon farming, while maintaining employment and supply of Chilean export goods.
In addition to carrying out strict sanitary controls and changing work protocols, the affiliated companies of the Salmon Council have engaged special services for their employees to enter the facilities by sea and by air.
The companies of the Salmon Council have provided aid to the southern part of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boxes of food, personal protection and hygiene supplies have been delivered to communities, along with supplies for children to continue with their schoolwork.
The companies have opened their laboratories as PCR sample centers, one laboratory alone completing 5,000 tests from April to date. The companies have invested in supplies and equipment, making their facilities available to the health authority from the beginning of the crisis and increasing the capacity of southern Chile to analyze PCR tests for the entire public health system.
“The companies of the Salmon Council are working with rigorous protocols to contain the advance of the virus, to take care of their employees and the community, and to continue operating in the farming and processing centers. As companies connected with the community they have been present in vulnerable homes, delivering food, face masks and making their laboratories available to perform PCR tests,” said Joanna Davidovich, the Chief Executive Officer of the Salmon Council.