Chile’s salmon farmers win in Los Lagos dispute

Salmon farm by the bay of Cochamo, Los Lagos, Chile.

Producers in Chile’s salmon industry are breathing a sigh of relief after being told they do not have to hand over land and water areas to indigenous groups.

A key commission has rejected demands that this section of the population in the Los Lagos area be given control of a number of coastal fishing and aquaculture areas region which the salmon industry says are important to their sector and those who work in it.

The meeting to decide the issue lasted several hours and was preceded by a 5,000 strong march of union members expressing their opposition to handing over control.

Both the unions and salmon companies stressed they were not against the needs of the native groups but felt that too much control of these areas would have been handed to a relatively small number of people.

They also felt that what was being proposed was too ambiguous and would affect many workers in the salmon sector, the mussel industry and ordinary fishermen.

But in a separate and earlier move, the authorities have told the salmon industry to adopt measures at some 255 salmon centres to prevent excess production or face heavy fines.

The order has been issued by Chile’s environmental agency, the Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente (SMA), after it became clear that some companies had been ramping up production beyond what is legally allowed.

The SMA has introduced an algorithm system that monitors what goes on at the various centres. Companies will be warned if they are getting close to the limit.

It says: “The SMA seeks to promote the industry’s environmental compliance. With these reports, the owners will be alerted about how their production level is going as permitted in their environmental permit, so that they adjust to it.”



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