July 3, 2008


Chilean groups protest on aquaculture expansion in Region XII


Following a recent discovery of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) in Megallanes (Region XII), local groups are calling for a moratorium on the southward expansion of the Chilean fish farming industry.


Last month, ISA was detected in a Caleta Donoso salmon facility in Ultima Esperanza Sound, near Puerto Natales in ISA infection-free Region XII.


Groups that include the Salmon farms Social Coordinating Committee (CSPSS), Oxfam Chile and the National Confederation of Artisan Fishermen are now demanding that the government to stop issuing new aquaculture concessions.


The groups fear there could be a backlash in allowing aquaculture in Region XII. They were concerned that antibiotics and waste could be released into the waters, therefore impacting the fishing and tourism industries. They were also worried that aquaculture could introduce ISA into the disease-free Region XII waters.


Aquaculture is a fairly new but rapidly growing industry in Chile, worth about US$2.2 billion. However, the industry has been plagued by ISA and complaints of environmental pollution. After posting growth rates of 28 percent in 2006, Chile's farmed salmon increased only 2 percent in 2007.


Region X is Chile's main aquaculture point but it is severely ravaged by ISA therefore the industry is looking to expand into the infection-free waters of Region XI and XII. There was nearly 1,000 applications for aquaculture concessions, a shocking number as Chile had processed only about 500 applications for the past 20 years. So far, the government office has already issued an additional 80 concessions to companies expected to launch operations by the end of this year.

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