Nova Austral loses appeal, will pay USD 1 million fine after losses widened in Q4 2023

The company's losses widened as lower sales volumes and higher costs of goods sold compounded in its Q4 results
A row of salmon net pens operated by Nova Austral in Chile
Chilean salmon farming company Nova Austral has lost an appeal of a fine levied for faulty environmental practices | Photo courtesy of Nova Austral
4 Min

A Chilean court of appeals has confirmed salmon farmer Nova Austral must pay a fine of CLP 1.02 billion (USD 1.06 million, EUR 992,000) for environmental infractions.

In July 2022, Chilean environmental agency SMA imposed the fine after it found Nova Austral artificially altered the seabed at its Aracena 14 salmon farm near the city of Punta Arenas. Nova Austal appealed the fine to Chile's Third Environmental Court, which ruled in its favor, but that ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals of Valdivia on 1 April. The court found the Environmental Court’s jurisdiction was limited to the legal aspects of the case, and said it was “inappropriate” for the latter to analyze the merit of the fine, as it was “impertinent” as doing so would encroach upon the SMA's "own and exclusive powers.”

In July 2022, SMA also moved to revoke the environmental permits for Nova Austral’s grow-out centers in the Alberto de Agostini National Reserve, in Chile’s southernmost Magallanes Region, for what the SMA said was “the repetitive exceeding of the production limits authorized for the company, which generated environmental damage.” Nova Austral appealed the SMA decision, and received a temporary reprieve when Chile's Third Environmental Court voided the sanctions. However, SMA has appealed to the Supreme Court; Nova Austral said it may be forced to shut down if it the court decides against it.

Separately, Nova Austral came under investigation in 2019 from Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) for underreporting mortalities – an infraction which led to criminal charges and fines

Nova Austral posted a USD 32.8 million (EUR 30.8 million) net loss in Q4 2023, a bigger loss than the USD 22 million (EUR 20.6 million) it recorded in Q4 2022.

The company’s Q4 2023 revenue decreased 4 percent to USD 26.3 million (EUR 24.7 million), compared to USD 27.3 million (EUR 25.6 million) in Q4 2022, mainly due to lower volumes sold, which were down 6 percent, or 195 metric tons (MT) whole-fish equivalent (WFE), compared to Q4 2022.

Nova Austral's losses were also impacted by ... 

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