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The Court of Appeals of Punta Arenas jurisdictional territory includes the Region of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic

Court of Appeals paralyzes operation of salmon farm in the Beagle Channel

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 23:40 (GMT + 9)

The strong controversy and rejection that the installation of the salmon industry in the Beagle Channel has generated in the community of Puerto Williams and the Yagan people finally ended in court.

Last week, Constanza Portus Torres, Gabriela Faraldo Victorica, Jorge Caros Lara and the Greenpeace Pacific South Foundation filed an appeal for protection before the Court of Appeals of Punta Arenas, against the company Pesquera Cabo Pilar SA, current owner of the four salmon farming concessions granted in the Beagle Channel in 2005, for affecting the constitutional rights of equality before the law and of living in a pollution-free environment.

The Beagle Channel divides Chile from Argentina

According to the appellants, the company incurred "in arbitrary and illegal acts, since it has violated a valid precautionary measure, of which it was in full knowledge". This precautionary measure was ordered by the Arbitral Tribunal of Osorno, after a trial to resolve a dispute between private parties, forcing "the total suspension of operations and the entry of fish and floating structures, pontoons, rafts, cages or any other movable property with respect to the aquaculture concession." Notwithstanding this, inhabitants of Puerto Williams witnessed in recent weeks movement and transfer of personal property to the granted sector, and took photographic records to endorse their statements.

In the letter they add that "protected by what the precautionary measure ordered in 2009, the project owner justified the suspension of the expiration periods, established both in the General Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture and in the Law of General Bases of the Environment." That is, with caution as an argument, the company was able to prevent the Undersecretariat of Fisheries from expiring its concessions, after more than three years without operating. "In this sense - they add - commits not only an arbitrary act with respect to when to comply or not a precautionary measure, but in addition, an illegal act, since it transgresses the provisions of the Undersecretariat of Fisheries in exempt resolutions Nº 432 and 1033 of 2009 and 2010, respectively, violating the principle of legality enjoyed by the acts of the administration."


Protests to the establishment of salmon farms in the Beagle Channel. (Photo courtesy laprensaaustral.cl)

The appeal also requests declaring an order not to innovate, "ordering to stop the transport and movement of salmonid fingerlings to illegally admitted cages in the Beagle Channel, Cabo de Hornos commune (...) in response to the serious and irreversible impact that causes organisms of exotic species are introduced in pristine landscapes, which are the sustenance of our development ".

Biosphere Reserve

Also, among the information provided by the appellants, it is mentioned that Pesquera Cabo Pilar S.A. holds concessions and permits granted to exploit salmon farming centers in the Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve, which acquired such status through the approval of the International Coordination Council of the Unesco Man and Biosphere Program, in its annual meeting of June 27, 2005. It goes on to point out that the pristine nature of this territory allows this reserve to be identified as one of the 24 least intervened ecoregions in the world.

"Currently, in the district of Cabo de Hornos, there are 32 investment projects that have required entry through the environmental impact assessment system, of which 13 are projects linked to the salmon industry."

Regarding the expansion and the impact of the salmon industry on this region, the appellants maintain that "the viral, bacterial and parasitic ictiopathologies, which the industry itself led to the regions of Los Lagos and Aysén have generated a situation of sanitary and environmental collapse with high costs for the industry, forcing it to look for new healthy environments in which to operate."

Last Thursday, April 18, the Court of Appeals declared admissible the protection remedy deduced; it requested background to the appeal within six working days, and issued an order not to innovate, which implies that Pesquera Cabo Pilar S.A. must stop work until the bottom of the matter is resolved. That same day, the president of the high court, Marcos Kusanovic, notified the company about the resolution.

Source: La Prensa Austral

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