Place: chile, South America
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 0,00 | Period: From January 2012 To


Based in the small city of Valdivia, Chile, PEL is a social enterprise that sells responsible seafood and other marine products  harvested by Chilean artisanal fishers and shoreline collectors.   PEL works to shorten the supply chain, buying a portion of local fishers’ catches at fair (above market) prices and selling direct to home consumers, hotels and restaurants as far as the capital in Santiago, where chefs are partners in the mission to promote local, traceable seafood. PEL its work directly benefits artisanal fishing communities in Chile.  PEL reinvests earnings in developing ways to ensure the long term health of coastal fisheries, including in training for fishermen to better protect their marine resources and add value to their catches.  A long term goal is to galvanize the public in Chile to place high value on one of the nation’s greatest resources local -wild seafood– by educating chefs, retailers and consumers to distinguish responsibly produced seafood from the rest.


Federation of fishermen South - Chile

Lead applicant

Improving the quality of life of fishermen, through better incomes for their work, are the goals of all actions undertaken by the Federation of Fishermen Interregional South-Valdivia (FIPASUR) Since its creation in 1990.

Boragó Restaurant - Chile

Initiative partner

Boragó Restaurant and its highly respected, world-renowned chef, Rodolfo Guzmán, has been a key partner for Pesca en Linea (PEL) from the beginning. Because it only procures, prepares and serves cuisine from natural ingredients endemic to Chile’s seas, forests, valleys, and mountains, it considers PEL to be the best and only credible source of the seafood it serves its clients. Boragó serves PEL’s seafood in an avant-garde style celebrating the sustainability of the country’s gastronomic resources. Chef Guzmán is heralded by the gastronomic press as running the best restaurant in Chile, number 5 in Latin America,

Austral University of Chile - Chile

Initiative partner

Austral University (UACH) has been an essential partner in the development and ongoing operations of Pesca en Linea (PEL) from the beginning. UACH conducted chemical and microbiological analyses of the seafood products and processes to ensure safety, quality, and accuracy of labelling for successful commercialization. UACH also provided marketing studies to develop targeted sales strategies. UACH’s College of Agricultural Science, Engineering School of Food and Nutrition (Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Escuela de Ingeniería en Alimentos) provides ongoing support through undergraduate internships whereby degree candidates complete their final theses projects at PEL’s plant. The involvement of UACH faculty and students with PEL has created enhanced integration and liaison opportunities for PEL and UACH. UACH now has stronger ties and greater involvement with Chile’s artisanal fishery resources and communities. PEL likewise enjoys the benefit of UACH’s expert research and project analysis

Pesca en Linea, led by a federation of over 1300 Chilean small-scale fishers, earns better prices for local catches by handling processing, distribution and marketing, eliminating supply chain intermediaries. This model adds economic value to artisanal seafood, increases supply security, creates new markets for under-appreciated species, supports traditional fishing livelihoods, and directly connects consumers and seafood producers. Pesca en Linea promotes responsible fishing by strictly sourcing from cooperatives whose members adhere to fishery regulations, report all catches, and use lower-impact fishing methods that protect wild fisheries and habitat. In addition to supporting food security and eco-friendly practices, this model provides consumers with high quality fresh seafood, and the ability to trace where, how, when and by whom their seafood was caught.

The main innovation is transforming a local fisher’s organization into a seafood processor, marketer and distributor. In order to sell direct to consumers, Pesca en Linea had to create new infrastructure, new markets among Chilean chefs for “under-appreciated” fish from artisanal fisheries, and train fishers in improved handling of the catch to increase value and decrease waste. Thanks to a fully integrated supply chain, Pesca en Linea can differentiate its product in the marketplace by providing tracking data on the boat, location, gear and time that seafood was caught, and processing details. Such information isn’t available from the vast majority of seafood wholesalers, but consumers increasingly want to know how their purchases affect the environment and communities. Some traceability information is already operational on Pesca en Linea’s web site (http://pescaenlinea.cl) and a real-time tracking system will be implemented in the near future. 

PEL´s fishermen PEL´s fishermen
Video Mrs. Dominga Huichalaf, local artisanal fisher, catches fish for PEL

Generations of Chilean artisan fishers have made a living catching wild seafood with small boats and low-impact fishing gear and practices.  But while Chile’s economy is strong overall, the standard of living in many artisanal fishing communities remains low.  Pesca en Linea pays artisanal fishers above-market prices to help change this persistent dynamic. Sustaining economically viable artisanal fisheries promotes food security.  In addition, cooperatives that supply Pesca en Linea have exclusive rights to fish certain species within defined coastal territories called Management Areas. Pesca en Linea thus supports a fisheries governance approach where local fishers play a role in managing the resources they depend on.  Pesca en Linea suppliers also work multi-species fisheries, which means that fishers can be responsive to periodic changes in species abundance to avoid overfishing. 

shellfish gathering artisanal fishers gather shellfish by hand from small traditional wooden boats

Strong indicators of this model’s impact include that:
1) Pesca en Linea has a waiting list of fishing cooperatives wishing to be vetted as responsible producers in order to sell products;
2) Sales have more than tripled since 2012;
3) the fishers’ federation has received competitive awards totaling over $440,000 US for operations, modifications, and expansions,
4) The fishers’ federation itself has invested $120,000 USD in the company;
5) chefs at the best restaurants in Chile’s capital and all over the country now buy seafood only from Pesca en Linea because they know it to be responsibly harvested, eco-friendly, fully traceable, and no more expensive than seafood without those attributes;
6) Pesca en Linea has organized seafood festivals which have drawn over 20,000 visitors in the last two years;
7)  Pesca en Linea is gaining recognition outside Chile, through Slow Fish/ Slow Food International, and participation in New York City’s 2nd annual Sustainable Seafood Week in 2014.  

PEL seafood product samples PEL buys fresh, raw, wild-caught, responsibly-harvested, traceable seafood from legal artisanal fishers and processes it into convenient value-added packages like these sold all over Chile
fresh steamed mussels on the half shell with zesty lime on the side one of many delicious, nutritious PEL product offerings from reliable, sustainable, traceable, legal artisanal sources

The main beneficiaries are artisanal fishers and their families who gain economic security. Their communities benefit from a more stable tax base assuring improved services, living conditions and political representation. In turn these communities provide greater food security and access to healthier food choices for all Chileans.  Despite its rich marine resources, Chile is one of the world’s lowest consumers of seafood. Pesca en Linea creates a new channel for Chileans to buy local fresh seafood, try “new” species from their waters and eat highly nutritive fish like sardines (an alternative to selling sardine on the commodity market as fertilizer or animal feed). This promotes reduced red meat consumption, and more sustainable seafood choices. Pesca en Linea aims to bring this model and these benefits to the Pacific Alliance nations of Peru, Colombia and Mexico (and other nations globally) to enhance global food security by rewarding responsible small-scale fishing practices.

artisanal shellfish divers sell hand-picked, legal-size shellfish to PEL PEL buys fresh seafood from vetted artisanal fishers, processes it immediately, and delivers it quickly to online customers who want to know who caught it, where it was caught, when it was caught, and that it was harvested responsibly and paid for at fair trade prices

Pesca en Linea’s core team worked closely with local fishing cooperatives and Federation leaders to envision and implement a plan, and continues to rely on the administrative and production workers responsible for Pesca en Linea’s success. The leadership team includes a marine biologist, Claudio Barrientos, who focuses on development, innovation and social responsibility; Patricio Olavarria, a engineering  with major in food system and MBA candidate with experience in seafood processing and plant operations; and Griselda Ilabel, specialist in supplier/community relations and local marketing. This core group regularly consults analysts outside of Chile who provide insight into the sustainable seafood movement and niche markets abroad (Wendy Weisman), small business development and international trade (Mickey Conway), trends among top chefs (Sisha Ortuzar), and the scientific aspects of successful and sustainable multi-species fisheries (Tracy Van Holt).  

Claudio Barrientos Marine Biologist, who focused on developmnet, innovation and social responsibility
Patricio Olavarria PEL´s manager, engineering with major in food system and MBA candidate
team team and fishermen leader

PEL’s seafood processing/delivery infrastructure, labor, and ordering system, represent significant costs. Obtaining sufficient working capital to buy product and meet growing demand is an ongoing challenge.  Pesca en Linea has met the challenges by raising $440,000 US in competitive awards from Chilean economic development agencies, plus $108,000 US for awareness campaigns/promotion of local fisheries, and an investment of $120,000 US from the federation (total $668,000). Pesca en Linea is now exploring partnerships with US-based NGOs and social impact investors. Another key challenge was to create a culture among small-scale fishers to take small risks to change the status quo. Though it seems counterintuitive, many fishers who have traditionally sold their catches to middlemen – at low prices or at a loss – may still be reluctant to use a new supply chain approach with direct market links.  Pesca en Linea has worked hard to cultivate and earn the trust of dedicated suppliers.

fisherman heading to work fisherman setting out to work in the morning

Pesca en Linea supports sustainable fisheries with appropriate technology. A) We minimize damage to marine habitat by buying only from artisanal fishers, who dive/hand collect shellfish, and fish with handlines, poles, traps and nets instead of trawls. B) We reduce waste of marine resources by training fishers in improved handling of the catch, and creating new markets for fish low on the food chain, formerly discarded as worthless. C) Our work benefits the environment as well as improved human health, by enabling Chileans to access local wild seafood instead of red meat raised at high cost to terrestrial habitat. D) Pesca en Linea develops partnerships enabling local fishers to monitor and manage those local fisheries considered low economic/ecological priority by the federal government. E) By vetting every supplier, prioritizing traceability, and scrupulously avoiding trading illegally caught seafood, Pesca en Linea works to end the black market for seafood. 

Building on success with fishers in the southern-central zones of Chile since 2012, Pesca en Linea has begun to reach out to other fishing federations. The team shares lessons learned about adding value and shortening the supply chain, to achieve more sustainable fisheries and livelihoods. The team facilitates exchanges between fishers so they can see for themselves how the system works and learn from each other. The Pesca en Linea team seeks to bring this model for increasing food security from the “bottom up” to other Latin American countries where the small-scale fishing sector is similarly held back by lack of infrastructure and experience to control the supply chain and link directly to markets. Likely trial areas for implementing this program will be the Pacific Alliance nations of Peru, Colombia, and Mexico. Pesca en Linea’s expansion into sustainable seafood niche markets abroad will include a client in the US seeking to import and distribute to chefs in New York. 

Pesca en Linea connects PEL connects artisanal fishers with consumers, chefs, policy makers and the media

• Feria Gastronomica Marina, Chile (2013, 2014). A seafood celebration organized by Pesca en Linea to promote awareness among fishers, consumers, chefs, policy makers and the media.

• Chefs de los  Rios – A local network of local chefs that promotes Pesca en Linea’s products.
• Cocinamar – A seafood tasting co-sponsored by Pesca en Linea (Sept. 2014) in the resort town of Puerto Varas. The event featured Chilean chefs preparing seafood supplied by Pesca en Linea.
• Chilean press clips, testimonials and outreach by top chefs.
• Pesca en Linea named as “Heroes of Sustainable Fishing” by Slow Fish / Slow Food International (http://www.slowfood.com/slowfish)
• Sustainable Seafood Week New York City 2014 (www.sustainableseafoodweeknyc.com).  Samples of Pesca en Linea seafood were served at high profile tastings hosted by chef Sisha Ortizar and restaurateur Tom Colicchio. Pesca en Linea representatives spoke as part of a panel of industry experts.

fegam a seafood celebration organized by Pesca en Linea to promote awareness among fishers, consumer, chefs, policy makers and the media
chef de los rios a local network of restaurant chefs that promotes Pesca en Linea´s products
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Fegam 2013 Fegam 2013
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Samudra article Samudra magazine
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../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf reportaje Pesca en Linea articulo de prensa revista circulación nacional