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Benchmark Genetics receives disease-free compartment in Chile

The certification opens opportunities to export genetics to the global salmon market.

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Inspecting incubation at the Ensenada facility. Credits: Benchmark Genetics
May 23, 2023

Benchmark Genetics Chile received the Disease-Free Compartment Certification from the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca). Benchmark is the first genetics company in Chile to achieve this distinction, which recognizes the high biosecurity standards by which the company operates. The certification also opens opportunities to export genetic material from Chile to salmon producers across the globe.

The Disease-Free Compartment Certification defined by the World Organisation for Animal Health, WOAH, is only given to aquaculture farms that can demonstrate an active surveillance system, with strict biosecurity measures enforced where the animals are free of certain listed diseases. The farms must have firm management practices to keep the animals healthy and safe from diseases to get the certification. The independent compartment of Benchmark Genetics Chile will, in practice, open for export. The disease status of the company’s farms is independent of other activities in the country.

“We are very proud to celebrate this milestone reached by Benchmark Genetics Chile. This is the most demanding standard in the world regarding biosecurity and demonstrates the unparalleled sanitary condition of our facilities in the country,” said Trond Williksen, CEO of Benchmark Holdings.

“This certification is very relevant as we now have the same health and biosecurity standards in Chile as in Iceland. Biosecure operations are an important differentiation factor for Benchmark and reduce the risk related to egg supply for our customers. Additionally, our Chilean production can now be considered a source of biosecure eggs for salmon farmers worldwide,” said Jan-Emil Johannessen, head of Benchmark Genetics.

Until today, there have only been four certified salmonid compartments in the world: two in Canada, one in Iceland (also belonging to Benchmark Genetics) and one in Chile (AquaChile). Benchmark Genetics Chile is adding two certified fish farms (Curacalco and Ensenada) to this exclusive list of biosecure operations with the new certification.

“For the national authority and the country, it is positive to be part of this process where companies achieve this level of certification. Compartmentalization, in very simple words, means that fish farms take extraordinary biosecurity measures to grow disease-free fish. This sounds so simple, but in practice, it is not. A large epidemiological surveillance program is required to ensure that there are no pathogens. It is a high standard, and as a government, we aim precisely to raise all standards, with an important focus on the operation of the aquaculture industry,” said the national director of Sernapesca, María Soledad Tapia.