Maximum fines against Nova Austral insufficient, says Chile’s Sernapesca

Published on
July 10, 2020

A Chilean court in the southern city of Punta Arenas has ordered salmon farmer Nova Austral to pay the maximum fine allowed by law for falsifying mortality reports at centers in the Magallanes region.

The fine is CLP 150 million (USD 190,200, EUR 168,500) but Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service, Sernapesca, will look to increase sanctions. The country’s fisheries law also allows for punitive actions of suspension of operations for up to two production cycles.

"We are satisfied that a situation as serious as the deliberate concealment of information in which Nova Austral incurred has been sanctioned. Providing information on mortalities at farming centers is essential to prevent health situations that affect both the company and the surrounding environment,” Sernapesca Director Alicia Gallardo said in a press release. “However, we will appeal the ruling because we believe that there are no precedents to justify that the suspension of operations was not applied as outlined under the law. Also, concrete, institutional signs must be provided that this type of behavior is not tolerable; as such, the sanctions established must be applied in their entirety so this does not happen again."

Charges were filed against Nova Austral last year for the false reporting of mortality figures, and last month Chile’s Council for the Defense of the State (CDE) filed a criminal lawsuit against one current and four former company executives, forcing an investigation into their responsibility for fraud, according to an announcement by CDE.

In response to the misconduct, Nova Austral implemented executive changes in April this year, looking to bolster administration, with management saying it is “committed to steer the company through its pending legal and regulatory matters, and at the same time create a better company for the future.”

Nova Austral is owned by the equity funds Altor Fund III and Bain Capital. Its entire operations are in the Magallanes and Antarctic regions, employing some 800 people directly.

Photo courtesy of Nova Austral

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