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Over the past 16 years, Chile has become the world's largest producer of farmed salmon. On the surface, fish farming—or acquiculture—seems like an ideal solution to the overfishing that has depleted the world's wild fisheries, as well as a possible answer to world hunger. But in this audio interview, Eric Nee, the co-host of Social Innovation Conversations, and managing editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, converses with Rodrigo Pizarro, director of Chile's Terram Foundation, who reveals that acquiculture, in fact, has generated many serious and unforeseen environmental and social problems.
Pizarro details Terram's successful pilot project to cultivate kelp in salmon enclosures as a means of absorbing excess nitrogen produced by salmon feces. The project, which was awarded the 2007 Intel Environment Award, administered by the Tech Museum in San Jose, Calif., has proven to be a sustainable win for the environment, the local economy, and indigenous coastal peoples in Chile.
Rodrigo Pizarro is an economist by training, and studied at the London School of Economics and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He came across environmental issues almost accidentally in his first formal job at the Central Bank of Chile, where he participated in an environmental accounts project. Since then, he has worked in the public sector and with non-governmental organizations on solutions to environmental problems. He was an advisor to Chile's Minister of Economy and Public Works on environmental issues, and has directed Fundación Terram (Terram Foundation), a sustainable development NGO in Chile, where he led the team on the organization's award-winning bioremediation project in Chilean salmon farms. Pizarro is presently a graduate student in Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment.