Oceana Joins Call for Chilean Salmon Industry Moratorium


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
July 31, 2008

Oceana on Thursday joined a growing faction of environmental and social organizations calling for a moratorium on the expansion of southern Chile's farmed salmon and trout industries.

In a letter addressed to Chilean Economy Minister Hugo Lavados, Oceana asked the government to cease issuing concessions to farmed salmon companies planning operations in Aysen (Region XI) and Magallanes (Region XII).

"Not only does it not make sense to grant aquaculture concessions while the regulation that will govern the salmon sector in future years is being revised, but it also raises doubts about the Salmon Task Force's willingness to address the industry's environmental and sanitary problems in depth," Alex Munoz, Oceana VP for South America, told the Patagonia Times.

The Ministry of the Economy formed the Salmon Task Force earlier this year to address the problems facing the country's $2.2 billion salmon industry, including sea lice infestations and an outbreak of infectious salmon anemia (ISA).

Region X houses roughly 70 percent of Chile's farmed salmon industry, the world's second largest after Norway. Overcrowding, parasites and disease have prompted salmon companies to look south to Regions XI and XII. Currently, SERNAPESCA, Chile's fisheries management agency, is considering 1,262 pending aquaculture concession requests in Aysen plus another 1,249 requests in Magallanes.

Oceana and other critics fear that in expanding salmon companies further south will repeat the environmental mistakes made in Region X.

"Upon seeing the problems caused in said region (X), it's clear there needs to be a deep assessment of the costs and environmental and sanitary implications caused in that zone, before deciding to prompt an expansion of the industry toward the south of Chile, especially when there is already news of the first bud of the ISA virus in the zone of Magallanes," said Munoz.

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