Meet the team: Q&A with Claudio Barrientos

Claudio is a marine biologist from south-central Chile where he has developed his work with artisanal fishing communities engaged in diving and small-scale fishing. He has promoted fishery certification projects, direct marketing of seafood products, small-scale aquaculture and community tourism with the aim of seeking alternatives for fishery diversification to improve the quality of life of artisanal fishermen.
For Claudio, social innovation is a key driver in the search for alternatives that help improve the quality of life of artisanal fishermen and other disadvantaged groups in society.
Q: How did you find your way into marine issues?
When I was studying at the University, we began to carry out scientific research work with local fish and to link directly with artisanal fishermen who caught them, which for them was an economic activity that allowed them to support their families, and at that time I discovered the complex interactions that exist in fishing and the marine environment.
Q: Interest in seafood sustainability and traceability has grown in recent years. Why do you think that is?
In recent years in Chile there has been more talk of sustainability, there are many non-governmental organizations that promote the issue and the Chilean government has gradually incorporated it into laws and regulations.
I do not know if there is a greater interest in traceability, but there is a technological advance that has allowed the use of cheaper and easily accessible technology for the implementation of pilot traceability systems.
Q: Where do you hope global fish production will be in 5 years? 10 years?
I hope that in 5 years the Chilean fish stocks that are currently showing recovery tendencies can leave the state of overexploitation and collapse in which they are today and that in 10 more years we can have 100% of Chilean fisheries in a healthy state.
Likewise, I believe that in 5 and 10 years we will see an important growth of small-scale aquaculture developed by artisanal fishermen, we must be able to change the paradigm of only extracting resources from the sea, but also to be able to seed it and contribute marine protein to the system.
Q: What were you doing before you joined Future of Fish?
Since 2008 I have worked as an advisor to the Interregional Federation of Artisanal Fishermen of the South in Valdivia supporting the 23 unions that form part of it, about 800 artisanal fishermen and fisherwomen. In the same way, I am part of the board of directors of a Foundation that supports entrepreneurship from artisanal fisheries and co-founder of a consulting firm that works on social innovation with small-scale fishermen, which is certified as a B company.
Q: How do you see your previous experience coming into play at Future of Fish?
I have experience in developing projects in the area of seafood processing and direct marketing with different organizations of artisanal fishermen, which have failed. However, I do not see these failures as something negative but as an accumulation of experience that can help the team not to make the same mistakes.
Q: What most attracted you to working with Future of Fish?
What interested me most about working with Future of Fish is facing a great challenge in its arrival in Chile, which is to change a paradigm of how fish is commercialized. We also started with the most complicated fishery of all, that of common hake, and I liked having to think about how to contribute to solve this enormous problem.
Another interesting thing is that to face this challenge we have a medium and long term project, with an adequate budget and a multidisciplinary team with professionals from different parts of the world, which has been growing and consolidating in Chile.
Q: What are you most looking forward to doing in the next year?
After the Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to be able to return to the visits to the coves that we had to suspend for sanitary reasons and move forward a little faster in consolidating the seafood processing and commercialization projects that we have started in Duao, San Antonio, Viña del Mar and Santiago.

Published Jul 19, 2021