Pincoy Project: Chilean Salmon Industry presents a collaborative measure to reduce its antibiotic use


Source: Skretting - Nutreco Group

Global and local companies operating in Chile, led by Skretting, AquaGen/Blue Genomics, Pharmaq, Centrovet, Cermaq, Blumar and Ventisqueros have started a joint effort specifically aimed at helping Chile’s salmon industry to reduce its antibiotic use.

In Chile, the salmon industry’s heavy use of antibiotics has long been the subject of fierce criticism, which culminated this year with the National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sernapesca) revealing it reached its highest level in nine years in 2015.

By far, the No. 1 reason for this high usage was to address Septicemic Rickettsial Syndrome (SRS) challenges, since traditional vaccines and therapies have proved inefficient in dealing with this particular bacterial disease that is currently responsible for 78.9% of the disease-induced mortality and use of antibiotics in Chile, according to Sernapesca.

To make drastic reductions to the Chilean salmon industry’s antibiotic use, concrete collaborative measures must be taken. Therefore, global and local companies operating in Chile, led by Skretting, AquaGen/Blue Genomics, Pharmaq, Centrovet, Cermaq, Blumar and Ventisqueros have launched the groundbreaking Pincoy Project, which aims to address the issue through greater industry joint efforts while also delivering measurable sustainable growth. 

The project is named after Pincoy, the male water spirit of the seas from the Chilean mythology of Chiloé who is responsible for singing a song that encourages the Pincoya (his wife) to start her magical dance for the fertility of the sea. The spirit of the Pincoy Project is to improve the efficiency of the salmon industry, not only on the use of antibiotics but also on fish productivity, explains Evy Vikene, project leader in Skretting.

It is the primary intention of Pincoy to take a leadership role and progress beyond the culture of talking about antibiotic reduction by delivering tangible, measurable change. This will be achieved through specific actions, involving all stakeholders at all levels of the production chain

Amongst other things, the carefully structured project that started in 2016, comprises selective breeding, high-quality hatchery diets, careful smolt selection, vaccines, functional feed-based diets, best practice protocols at both the freshwater and seawater stages of growth, and close monitoring and reporting throughout. In its development, Pincoy considered previous efforts developed by Sernapesca and the Salmon Industry Association (SalmonChile), who both see the project as an opportunity for the country to show how, through this collaboration, the Chilean industry can set the basis for potential solutions to reduce the antibiotic use in a sustainable way.


“Pincoy Project is a very interesting strategy addressing a comprehensive approach that considers preventive aspects of SRS, as well as genetic factors and functional feeds that can strengthen fish health. We also highlight that this project involves a partnership between the public and private sector, which is very important in these kinds of initiatives. In addition, Pincoy is closely aligned with the policies we have been promoting with regards that we, as an industry, have to decrease the use of antimicrobials not only considering disease, but going further and focusing on prevention, control and collaboration between companies as well as science and research, which is very important for us.” Alicia Gallardo, Deputy Director of Aquaculture at Sernapesca.

“There is no one single silver bullet solution to dealing with SRS outbreaks, indeed the threat will always be present, but in Pincoy, Skretting has identified that a joined-up holistic approach – combining the latest knowledge and expertise within the industry at all levels of the production chain – will greatly reduce the impact of such events in the future. Not only on the ground in Chile, but from an international position, we have been inviting value chain partners to participate in this collaborative pan-industry project. It will be a learning process, but one that we all believe could lead the industry as a whole to achieving operational excellence. We are confident that the innovative, sharing culture of the Pincoy partners, underpinned by the aim to lead from the front, will facilitate permanent positive change and that benefits will be seen globally.' Steven Rafferty, Managing Director Skretting

“AquaGen and Blue Genomics have joined this initiative because it represents an opportunity to apply, in a coordinated way, different technologies and procedures that have recently emerged to control SRS. This project gathers different companies that have made the effort and investment to seek alternatives to the use of antibiotics, some of which have proved successful when applied independently in experimental and production conditions. However, until now it has not been possible to apply these alternatives together, nor to plan and obtain the best of each and their synergistic effect. Therefore, this project is important for providing the opportunity to discuss first and then apply the best technologies and practices that are available for controlling SRS, and the subsequent reduction in the use of antibiotics.”  Nina Santi, CEO of AquaGen, board member of Blue Genomics.

'Pharmaq is very familiar with the health problems currently facing the Chilean salmon industry, including SRS. This particular challenge has led to the very high use of therapeutic treatments and a deterioration of fish quality at harvest, not to mention significant farm losses. Following several years’ development, we have established cutting-edge vaccine technology to combat SRS, which is aligned with the objective of generating increasingly sustainable production for the salmon industry. We are confident this will become a valuable tool in Pincoy – a project that is based on the collaborative efforts between companies and institutions in the industry, who are all willing to contribute from their different areas of expertise in order to generate best practices aimed at finding solutions in a sustainable manner.” Bernd Wrege, Managing Director Pharmaq Chile.

'The monitoring and control of all kinds of diseases and mainly SRS is an ongoing effort in which Cermaq has worked for years, focusing mainly on the development of experimental vaccines. In this field, Pincoy Project complements our efforts on disease prevention and allows us to benefit from the experience of our strategic partners, who bring to this initiative a different perspective that makes the project innovative in the search for solutions for our sector on sanitary matters and fish health.” Geir Molvik CEO Cermaq.

'Pincoy Project is a relevant initiative that we believe has several outstanding features. It is a collaborative project among key players in the industry that utilises their valuable experience and knowledge. Such an approach is essential when facing a challenge such as SRS, which certainly needs to be addressed holistically. In addition, Pincoy has a preventive approach, which is optimal for fish health, and also proposes concrete tools to be used throughout the production cycle. Last but not least, this project will evaluate and publish its results, which will contribute to improving industry practices.” Alfredo Tello, Managing Director of the Technical Institute of Salmon, SalmonChile.


Skretting is the world leader in the manufacture and supply of aquaculture feeds, making it an essential link in the feed-to-food chain. The company applies its knowledge of ingredients and the nutritional needs of fish and shrimp to develop innovations that achieve optimum nutritional value, sustainable production and economic performance as it seeks to fulfil its company-wide mission of ‘Feeding the Future’.

Skretting annually produces more than 2 million tonnes of high-quality feeds. It has established Operating Companies on five continents that produce and deliver feeds from hatching to harvest for a wide range of species of farmed fish and shrimp. Skretting is a Nutreco company, the world’s leading animal and aquaculture nutritional feed producer.

Experience spanning more than 100 years gives Nutreco a rich heritage of knowledge and an ideal platform for building its future. Nutreco employs more than 11,000 people in 35 countries, with sales in 80 countries. In 2015, Nutreco was acquired by SHV Holdings.


AquaGen is a breeding company that develops, produces and delivers genetic material to the global sea-farming industry. Through a market-oriented research and development AquaGen has achieved a leading position as a provider of fertilised eggs of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.

Since the 1970s AquaGen has conducted a continual research and development programme in cooperation with commercial operators and research institutions. Based on a long-term and systematic breeding work combined with the use of modern breeding technologies, AquaGen offers an unique product mix adapted to the customers needs.

Blue Genomics SpA is a company dedicated to research in genomics and salmonids reproduction that emerges as the first result of the Technological Consortium for Innovation of the same name, which has been co-financed by CORFO (Chilean Economic Development Agency) and companies related to international salmon farming: AquaGen Chile, AquaGen Norway and Vaxxinova. Founded in 2013, Blue Genomics has designed and implemented a series of bioassays and experiments aimed at finding and understanding the phenotypic variability that salmon have in the resistance to various diseases affecting the Chilean salmon industry.


PHARMAQ is the global leader in vaccines and innovation for aquaculture and part of Zoetis, the world leader in animal health. The company provides environmentally sound, safe and efficacious health products to the global aquaculture industry through targeted research and the commitment of dedicated people. Production facilities, administration and research and development activities are based in Norway with subsidiaries in Chile, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Turkey, Spain, Panama and Hong Kong. PHARMAQ has approximately 200 employees. The company's products are marketed in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.


Centrovet Laboratory was founded in 1979. Since then, the company has been focused in R&D as a strategic driver of its business: bringing innovative solutions for animal health. The spirit of Centrovet has based its values on the quality management, continuous improvement, and satisfaction to clients.

Nowadays the company sells its products fish, swine, poultry and cattle industries, and for pet owners, exporting to 36 countries. Centrovet‘s product line includes: disinfectants, anti-infectives, antiparasitics, vitamins, electrolytes, growth promoters, anesthetics, anti-inflammatories, analgesics, feed additives, enzymes, acidifiers, antioxidants, vaccines, etc.


Cermaq Chile is part of Cermaq AS Group, with operations in Norway, Canada and Chile. The company started operations in 1985, being the fourth in the category to settle in the country. In 2014, it was acquired by Mitsubishi Group, becoming fully-owned by the Japanese giant. Chile’s headquarters are located in Puerto Montt, Los Lagos Region.

Since its origins, the company has led the production of salmon, coho and trout, which are consumed fresh or frozen in various markets of Asia, Europe and America. Cermaq has operations in Chile from Araucania to Magallanes Regions, employing about 2,000 workers. The company currently supplies more than 70 countries, shipping orders 365 days a year and producing salmon for more than 2 million plates of food daily.


Blumar Seafoods is a world-class enterprise dedicated to fishing and aquaculture. With over 60 years of experience in the industry, the company has excelled in the development of quality products while maintaining harmony with the environment.

Blumar Seafoods’ products are frozen horse mackerel for human consumption and fishmeal and fish oil for the production of animal feed. In the case of salmon, products are sold fresh or frozen and its main destination is the United States, where the company has a subsidiary for distribution throughout the country. Other important markets are Brazil and the rest of Latin America, Europe and Asia.


Ventisqueros is a Chilean business with 20 years’ experience in the cultivation and processing of salmon, aiming always to add the greatest value to its products. The company started up in 1985, with an eye on the long-term success of the business operating in an area with some of the best, most pristine water on the planet: Chile’s Patagonia.

Today, Ventisqueros is one of the most stable salmon businesses in the industry, known and respected in foreign markets for maintaining the highest quality standards, and for its strong commitment to serving its clients and developing its products. A major advance for the company occurred in 2011, when it became the fourth division of The Schörghuber Corporate Group, a highly respected German holding company.

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