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SalmonChile's Cesar Barros lamented Nature's accusations that Aysen farms are bad for the environment. (Photo: SalmonChile/Olach)

SalmonChile refutes accusations of prestigious magazine

Click on the flag for more information about Chile CHILE
Friday, June 25, 2010, 22:30 (GMT + 9)

The president of the Salmon Industry Association of Chile AG (SalmonChile), Cesar Barros, lamented the “inaccuracies and misconceptions” that appeared in an article published by the British magazine Nature, which contends that salmon farms in the Region of Aysen constitute a threat to the environment.

The publication assures that "the magnitude of the salmon farms and their associated noise and pollution are among several threats to local wildlife."

"Atlantic salmon is an alien predator, with uncharted effects on the endemic fish population and the entire local ecosystem," the piece adds.

Barros came out immediately to intercept the accusations made. He notes that according to the Environmental Aquaculture Report, published in 2008 by the Fisheries Subsecretariat (SUBPESCA), only 2 per cent of the audit reports on marine bottoms had been rejected for registering poor conditions.

"Nonetheless, the modifications to the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law (LGPA) have brought about new systems and many more strict norms with respect to the marine and lacustrine bottoms, that set forth independent audits, designated by the National Fisheries Service (SERNAPESCA), as well as obligatory periods of rest for each one of the sanitary management areas," the Chilean union leader added.

In terms of the claim that “there is a smell like bleach, pesticides are used and that large volumes of excess feed and faeces remain in the water,” Barros responded: “None of these assertions are truthful, since the salmons require a healthy and clean environment for growth, and the elements referred to are not used in the industry nor do they accumulate in the water,” El Llanquihue reports.

The Nature article claims that “the nets used to protect the farmed fish are a hazard to marine mammals.”

On the issue, the SalmonChile leader explained that special sea lion nets were developed in the last few years that protect sea lions that try to penetrate farming centres.

With that measure, he said, “the level of mortality of these carnivorous mammals that get entangled in these protection elements has been reduced drastically. ”

In addition, he noted that in 2002 the Clean Production Agreement (APL) was signed, by which the local salmon farming industry committed to "replacing the sea lion nets on the basis of the measure of 10 inches or less. This goal achieved 85 per cent compliance, which meant that 189 centres made investments worth USD 64.5 million.”

The president of SalmonChile also cited researchers from the Catholic University of the North and University of Chile, Cesar Lopez and Juan Guillermo Gormaz, who indicated: “It’s noteworthy that the main author, Heike Vester, a Norwegian marine biologist and declared ecologist, dedicated to the study of the sounds of marine species, worries so much about our country and does not mention anything about the growing and successful salmon farming industry of his nation, which has faced and continues dealing with problems of an environmental nature due to the effects of the salmon farm escapes on the native species of its latitudes, among other reasons.”

Barros expressed the "concern" of his sector with respect to "the true intentionality of this type of unfounded information, even more when, today the industry in its efforts towards sustainability is showing results."

In its article, Vester also says that “politicians and the public are largely unaware of these dangers because potential environmental damage by industries is not systematically controlled in Chile.”

"We suggest implementing collaborative efforts between aquaculture industries and local fisheries and applying stringent environmental controls," the Norwegian biologist concludes.

Related article:

- Congress passes modifications of aquaculture law

By Analia Murias
[email protected]




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