Landscape dependency of land-based salmon farming under climate change

Peer Reviewed
7 December 2023

Jorge León-Muñoz, Rodrigo Aguayo, Doris Soto, Ruben Avendaño-Herrera, Jorge Nimptsch, Stefan Wolfl, Jeanne Simon, Cristian Echeverría, Mauricio Aguayo, Cesar Salazar, Oscar Garay, Sage Fox

The success of Chilean salmon farming’s early cultivation stages is largely facilitated by access to high-quality water, which is provisioned by watersheds dominated by native forests and defined by high precipitation levels. In recent decades, human activities have increasingly affected both attributes. This study analyzed the risk of climate change in 123 watersheds that supply water to land-based salmon farms in south-central Chile (36.5−43°S). The risk was calculated based on exposure (fingerling and smolt production), sensitivity (land cover maps for three time periods), and hazard indicators (four climate change indicators). The results show a disturbing reality: under a high emissions scenario (RCP 8.5), more than 50% of the current fingerling and smolts production would be located in high or very high-risk areas. These projections are the result of both a drier and warmer climate as well as the continued processes of deforestation and fragmentation of native forests, a spatio-temporal combination which could limit the availability and quality of the water needed for optimal aquaculture production. The risk analysis suggests that landscape configuration may be a potential alternative to mitigate the consequences of climate change on Chilean salmon farming. This is particularly important in areas such as south-central Chile, where the current watershed management and/or conservation strategies do not ensure landscapes resilient to projected hydroclimatic changes.

Files and links

Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
León-Muñoz, J., Aguayo, R., Soto, D., Avendaño-Herrera, R., Nimptsch, J., Wolfl, S., Simon, J., Echeverría, C., Aguayo, M., Salazar, C., Garay, O., & Fox, S. (2023). Landscape dependency of land-based salmon farming under climate change. Climate Risk Management, 40, 100504.
Publication | 7 December 2023