Chilean authorities file three claims against Nova Austral

Following press accusations of underreporting against Chilean salmon farmer Nova Austral, the country’s fisheries and aquaculture service Sernapesca said it has filed three formal complaints against the company for adulteration of information. Meanwhile, the company has defended its operation.

In a statement, Sernapesca said that it has concluded a 14-day investigation against Nova Austral, a firm controlled by Chilean and Norwegian capital that aims to produce antibiotic-free salmon in the southern reaches of Patagonia.

In June, a Chilean press outlet EL Mostrador published purported emails that it claims show an attempt to manipulate the company’s reported mortality rates. The company denied the accusations and said it continues to work with authorities.

Now, Sernapesca said it has filed three claims, and its national director Alicia Gallarado Lagno said that following the investigation it has filed a claim with a local court in Punta Arenas, as well as another claim with the public ministry, which could open another potential investigation. A third claim has been filed with the environmental superintendent. The agency also said that it had filed three previous claims against the company for overproduction at its farms with the same authority.

Moreover, the Sernapesca statement said that since 2017, Nova Austral has been denounced for its practices 15 times. Two of these were for late delivery of sanitary information, and 11 for environmental infractions. Three of these have occurred in 2019, for operational, sanitary and environmental failures related to over production, bad waste management, infrastructure outside its concession, and other occurrences. All these accusations are still being processed.

The company has also released a new statement which reiterated its cooperation with sector regulators, and confirmed it held its first meeting with Sernapesca on 8 July to provide results of its independent investigation into the matter.

The company insisted that it has upheld its antibiotic-free customer commitments and has complied with strict guidelines to sustain this.

In the statement, the company did admit that its investigation “identified occasions of misreported mortalities to Sernapesca over the last production cycle,” but insisted that it proactively produced the corrected information to Sernapesca shortly after identifying the issues. It added that the misreporting “did not affect the quality or integrity of the company’s salmon and had no impact on its past financial disclosures.”

Furthermore, Nova Austral said it relies upon cold, pristine waters to achieve an industry-leading low level of mortalities. 

“The unusually high level of mortalities experienced over the last production cycle is primarily the result of poor smolt quality imported from region IX and X, high mortalities in transportation and delayed stocking related to Algae bloom issues,” the statement said.

The company said it is “committed to a full and complete remediation of any potential issues identified during the pending investigation.”


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