Seafood group Marine Harvest said today (4 February) that it expects improved results in 2009, despite problems in Chile, a key market for the company.

The Norway-based firm said there had been a "dramatic worsening" in Chile during the fourth quarter of 2008. Chile has seen a number of fish diseases over the last 18 months and Marine Harvest said the situation had not improved.

"The biological situation for the industry in Chile saw a dramatic worsening in the fourth quarter," said Marine Harvest CEO Åse Aulie Michelet. "Although Marine Harvest Chiles relative share of new infections is falling steadily, the general development leads to a downward revision of our outlook for Chile in 2009."

Aulie Michelet warned that Marine Harvest would not break even on an operational EBIT level in Chile in 2009 but said the group as a whole is forecasting better results this year.

"we have reduced our expected sales volume in Chile to 30 000 tons," she said. "Given that Marine Harvest's financial exposure to Chile has reached a manageable level, and given continued improvements in operations, we expect an improved performance in 2009."

Improved operational results from Marine Harvest's businesses in Norway, Canada and Scotland meant the company booked fourth-quarter EBIT of NOK268m (US$38.8m) against a loss of NOK15m in the same quarter last year.

Higher prices and currency fluctuations helped push up the company's revenue during the quarter, which rose from NOK3.66bn to NOK4.04bn.