Calling on Chile to stop salmon industry’s impact on Patagonia
Photo: Sam Beebe (CC BY 2.0).
You are here
Home » Press Center » Calling on Chile to stop salmon industry’s impact on Patagonia
24 September 2018
AIDA alerted six international treaties to the damages the salmon industry is causing to Chilean Patagonia, and requested that they visit the Magallanes region to investigate the impacts and urge the Chilean government to protect the region.
Santiago, Chile. In an Urgent Alert to international authorities, the Interamerican Association of Environmental Defense (AIDA) requested that experts visit the Magallanes region of Chilean Patagonia—where the expansion of the salmon industry is causing serious environmental damage—and asked them to urge the government to adopt appropriate measures to address them.
“These six treaties were signed and ratified by Chile to protect its natural wealth, including the endemic species of the Magallanes region,” said Florencia Ortuzar, AIDA attorney. “The government is violating these agreements by failing to prevent the salmon industry from damaging the country’s marine environments.”
The document details the principal damages caused by the salmon farms in Magallanes, among them: contamination of the seabed from large amounts of fish feces, excess chemical waste, and the over-saturation of waters with fish, all of which create oxygen-free dead zones where marine life cannot survive.
The alert was sent to authorities in charge of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the International Whaling Commission, the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Antarctic Treaty. The situation was also reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
The Magallanes region is home to many protected species, including the blue whale, the sperm whale, the Magellanic penguin, the elephant seal, the leatherback turtle, the Southern dolphin and the Chilean dolphin. A remote and pristine area, Magallanes is poorly studied and it is thus virtually impossible to understand the consequences of the industry’s current and potential impacts.
“More than half the farms operating in Magallanes are causing a total or partial lack of oxygen in the waters,” explained Ortuzar. “This demonstrates that the salmon concessions are being granted without the scientific support needed to guarantee they won’t cause environmental damage.”
Another problem raised in the alert is the excessive use of antibiotics in Chilean salmon farms—higher than that of any other salmon-producing nation. This excessive use provokes antimicrobial resistance in humans, a problem that has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a serious threat to global public health.
In the alert, AIDA requested the international authorities: support the Chilean State in the investigation of the salmon industry’s real and potential impacts on Patagonia; remind Chile of its obligations under the treaties; investigate the damage described; and, when needed, request the application of sanctions and the suspension or cancellation of concessions in Magallanes.