Calling on Chile to protect Patagonia from the risks of the salmon industry
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Sunday, May 21, 2017
More than half of the salmon farms in Chile’s Magallanes Region are depleting oxygen from sensitive marine waters, suffocating marine life. Civil society organizations filed an administrative complaint and a petition calling on the government to investigate and punish farm operators, and to enforce existing regulations.
Santiago, Chile. Civil society organizations filed a complaint today asking the Superintendent of the Environment to investigate damages caused by salmon farms in the Magallanes Region of Southern Patagonia, and to sanction the companies responsible. According to government reports, salmon farms in the area are depleting the water of oxygen, causing a serious threat to marine life.
“Salmon farming concessions have been approved in Magallanes without a detailed assessment of the impacts the industry may have on the region,” said Florencia Ortúzar, an attorney with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense. “The damages are already occurring: a report by the Comptroller General of the Republic found that, between 2013 and 2015, more than half of the salmon farms in Magallanes created anaerobic conditions, gravely threatening marine life.”
Chile is the world’s second largest producer of salmon. The industry, which developed on coasts further north, has now entered the Magallanes region in the southermost tip of the country. The pristine waters there are highly vulnerable to human activity. Magallanes has the largest number of protected natural areas in the country; it shelters such protected species as the blue whale, the sperm whale, the Magellanic penguin, the elephant seal, the leatherback sea turtle, the southern dolphin, and the Chilean dolphin.
“Salmon farms are cultivating more fish than the ecosystem can withstand. They are filling sensitive waters with chemicals and antibiotics,” said Francisco Campos-Lopez, director of #RealChile. “Those chemicals, combined with the feces of the animals, cause a dangerous lack of oxygen in the waters, endangering sea life.”