Chile withdraws salmon farm concessions

CONSERVATION groups have succeeded in halting the expansion of salmon farming in the Chilean Patagonia.
The marine conservation organisation Oceana welcomed the decision by fisheries minister Raul Sunico to withdraw a proposal to establish five salmon farm concessions in Tortel.
Sunico said that salmon farming was eliminated from the approved uses in areas suitable for aquaculture (AAA) in Tortel.
This permanent decision is, he said, a political measure that emerged from listening to local opinion.
‘We acknowledge that Tortel has identified tourism as its main development driver and, in our opinion, salmon farming is inconsistent with such priority,’ said Súnico.
Oceana and groups in Tortel promoted the campaign ‘Tortel Free from Salmon Farms’ which collected thousands of signatures in support.
‘This is a landmark achievement that will help protect Tortel, one of the most pristine and emblematic areas in Patagonia,’ said Alex Muñoz, vice-president for Oceana in Chile.
‘We welcome the decision made by Undersecretary Súnico which sets a limit to the expansion of a polluting industry like salmon farming.’
The community will now focus on developing tourism in the region.
Salmon farming is the third most important economic activity in Chile, with export value amounting to USD 4,200 million in 2014, according to FIS.
The Aysen Region, where Tortel is located, accounts for 54 per cent of the concessions of the southern area, and contributes to 49 per cent of the national salmon production.