July 13, 2021
Argentine bill disallows salmon farming in Tierra del Fuego
The legislature in Argentina's southernmost province of Tierra del Fuego has unanimously approved a bill prohibiting salmon farming.
According to a press release from environmentalist organisation Rewilding Argentina, salmon farming concessions being considered in the region would have threatened a biodiversity hotspot containing 50% of Argentina's macroalgae forests, which act as carbon sinks, the NGO said. Rewilding Argentina said salmon farming in the region was "threatening not only the environment but also its inhabitants' health and economy."
Greenpeace Argentina celebrated the passing of the bill, which it said made Argentina the first country in the world to prohibit salmon aquaculture.
"This event sets a historical precedent for the rest of the country and the world. Tierra del Fuego will avoid the environmental disaster that salmon farming may have caused," the organisation said on Twitter. "It is a great triumph for citizens and civil and environmental organizations."
The local movement to stop aquaculture in the waters of southern Argentina – notably, in the Beagle Channel – took root in March 2018, when agreements were signed between Innovation Norway, Argentina's Ministry of Agriculture and Industry, the Argentinean Foundation for the Promotion of Investments and International Trade and the province of Tierra del Fuego, in which the parties agreed to investigate possibilities for local salmon aquaculture development.
When the Argentine government and Tierra del Fuego signed an agreement with Norway to develop penned salmon production in the province in 2019, local protests forced the government to call a temporary halt to the project. A bill was later introduced to ban salmon industrialisation in the region and was passed.
"The sanction of this law is a clear and forceful institutional definition that highlights the importance for the people of Tierra del Fuego of the protection and conservation of our natural resources, the genetic heritage of our living beings and their environment for sustainable economic development," provincial legislator Pablo Villegas said after the bill passed with unanimous approval. "This is a vote in favor of life and economic activities, such as tourism, that actually create local work and economic development that favors and benefits various social sectors. The message is clear: if we work with our heads and hearts, with conviction, commitment, passion and responsibility, we can achieve things. Saying 'no' to salmon farms is possible."