The Senate voted in one of the most controversial points of the law. (Photo: Senado)
Aquaculture law: mortgage, labour points passed by Senate
Thursday, January 21, 2010, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
The Senate passed the mortgage and labour aspects included in the bill that modifies the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law (LGPA). This new norm is considered key for the future of the Chilean salmon farming industry, which has grappled with a severe sanitary and labour crisis since 2007, with the emergence of the infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) virus.
Following two weeks of deliberations, the Senate approved those points after modifying the voting procedure, which initially was article by article, establishing instead thematic groups which were voted on in blocs, Diario Financiero reports.
By 21 votes in favour, 7 against and 2 abstentions, the senators voted in one of the most controversial points of the law: the mortgage or guarantee that will be possible to exact on aquaculture concessions.
For Legislators Alexander Navarro, Guido Girardi and Carlos Ominami, these regulations permit the privatisation of the sea. For this reason they describe them as “discriminatory and exceptional,” as they allow private firms to constitute guarantees on a national asset of public use.
Meanwhile, Senators Evelyn Matthei, Antonio Horvath, Hosain Sabag and Hernan Larrain noted that “what is being mortgaged is not the water column or the marine bottom, but rather the right to produce aquaculture.”
According to Adolph Zaldivar, the main question is if the willingness exists so that “this industry can develop itself,” as it requires “legal certainty.”
“Property and mortgage have an unquestionable logic,” the senator added.
Legislator Guillermo Vasquez, in turn, said, “sadly the legal text incurs on several legal errors” because the concept of mortgage is applied inadequately.
In any case “there is no clash of interests with other productive water activities because the right of the concession holder neither reaches artisanal activity nor others,” Vasquez added.
With respect to the chapter on labour aspects, the Senate passed it by 23 votes in favour and 2 abstentions.
In this chapter, the obligation of regulating the labour effects that are produced by the application of the LGPA is put forth, as is the Subsecretariat of Labour’s allocation of up to 20 per cent of the union school education programme to the training and development of sector workers.
Senators Camilo Escalona and Juan Pablo Letelier emphasised the importance of these regulations for the different unions of the sector, whereas their colleague Alejandro Navarro called the labour norms contemplated in the bill “weak.”
Finally, the chapter that establishes the sanitary and environmental norms that aquaculture concession holders must fulfil was passed by 23 votes in favour and 2 abstentions.
This chapter includes a complete package of measures to prevent the spread of viruses and diseases that affect farmed salmonids.
As of this moment, the initiative is ready to complete its third proceeding in the House of Representatives.
By Analia Murias