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Road cuts at various points prevent the arrival of balanced food such as the transport of raw materials or finished products for export

One million salmon are dying or rotting because of social protests

Click on the flag for more information about Chile CHILE
Friday, November 08, 2019, 02:00 (GMT + 9)

One million salmon are dying of hunger or rotting in abandoned hatcheries and processing plants in Chile, the second largest producer of  thisfish worldwide, because protests prevent workers from entering the facilities.

The risk of environmental damage is imminent, with 800,000 fish waiting to be fed and harvested, and 320 tons decomposing at processing plants, the SalmonChile industrial group said in a statement.

During 2019 AquaChile invested USD 21 million in the expansion of this plant that so far processed 50% of the company's production. The plant is blocked by protests.

The situation is more critical in the city of Quellón, on the island of Chiloé, in the south of the country.

"The more the days go by and the companies do not take charge of the decomposing products, the health risk increases," Scarlett Molt, regional ministerial secretary of Health of the Los Lagos Region, told Radio Bío Bío.

Companies need to "remove these products and handle them according to the protocols."  Chile, which produces about 25% of the world's salmon supply, is suffering the worst social unrest since the return to democracy in the late 1990s.

The wave of protests over the rising cost of living has spread throughout the country, bringing millions of people to the streets and blocking roads and ports. More than a quarter of the supermarkets in the country have been looted. Road barricades to salmon farms and processing plants have blocked access to the facility for days, SalmonChile said.

The industrial group is asking local authorities to intervene to prevent the problem from intensifying. The affected plants include facilities owned by Empresas AquaChile SA, Marine Farm and Salmones Austral SpA, the Diario Financiero reported. Representatives of the three companies did not immediately respond to a request from Bloomberg for comment.

AquaChile processing plant in Quellón is the most modern and largest in the world.

Chile's fisheries authority, Sernapesca, said six different facilities that hold 890,000 fish are blocked and cannot harvest. Fish does not represent a sanitary risk for now and the authorities are doing everything possible to allow companies to transfer stranded fish to other nearby farms.

Chile's salmon industry has a past full of ups and downs in environmental issues. The algal blooms that environmentalists, including Greenpeace, have attributed in part to salmon farming have caused environmental disasters on the coasts of southern Chile.

In 2016, a particularly large bloom killed millions of farmed fish and caused considerable losses for salmon producers.

The marine fauna was also affected, with dead fish and shellfish on the shores of the island of Chiloé. On that occasion, the local fishermen who depend on that fish to survive rioted for days and blocked the roads to protest.

Source: La Prensa Austral

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