Camanchaca and Sernapesca fight over cleanup of sunken Chilean wellboat

Published on
November 21, 2017

Nearly a month after a salmon wellboat sunk of the coast of Chiloe in southern Chile, cleanup and recovery efforts are just getting started, and the cause of the accident that affected the nearly new wellboat “Seikongen” is still under investigation. 

The wellboat sunk off the coast of Chonci, in the Chiloe islands on 19 October, carrying around 200 tons of salmon. The boat is owned and operated by Chilean firm CPT Empresas Marítimas, and was carrying salmon harvested from Camanchaca farms. All 11 of the boat’s crewmembers were rescued. 

A statement from the Chilean Navy confirmed that the recovery efforts finally started on 8 November, after authorities and the shipping firm confirmed that conditions were safe for workers to start the cleanup. 

The “Doña Mariana” naval vessel and its crew have started to recover organic material from the sunken wellboat. BioBio Radio reported that the initial cleanup efforts started on 22 October, but had to be suspended due to technical complications.

According to a report in La Opinión de Chiloé, Chile’s National Fishery Service (Sernapesca) identified Camanchaca as the responsible party in charge of coordinating the recovery efforts and blamed the salmon producer for not removing the dead fish from the vessel within the legally established timeframe. However, regional Sernapesca director Eduardo Aguilera León told the media outlet that “the fines are not that high.”

An earlier report in the same media outlet included a statement from Camanchaca in which the firm said that the responsibility of the cleanup fell to the shipping firm.

Furthermore, the delay in recovering the salmon means that the firm must follow more stringent protocols for removing industrial waste.

The causes of the sinking are still under investigation. Reports indicated that the Seikongen was built in Hong Kong in 2017, and had been in service for less than a month. The shipping firm CPT Empresas Marítimas posted a promotional video of the vessel on its YouTube channel a few days before it sunk. 

Reporting from Santiago, Chile

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