In response to the approval of the reforms to the General Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture that occurred this week in the National Congress, Oceana indicated that the new regulation will not be sufficient to adequately resolve the environmental problems caused by salmon aquaculture in Chile. However, the organization valued the addition of new regulations destined to prevent and sanction salmon escapes, one of the most serious problems caused by the industry.
"Even though this law emphasizes the creation of more favorable financial conditions for the salmon industry and not substantive changes to protect ecosystems and the health of people, we value that they have finally incorporated regulations destined to prevent and to sanction the escape of salmon,” said Alex Muñoz, Executive Director of Oceana.
Last July, the organization presented a proposal to the Senate Committee on Fisheries to incorporate new provisions in the law requiring companies to take steps to prevent and report the escape of salmon, to repair the environmental damage caused and to mitigate their impacts, and to set penalties when these releases have been deliberate or produced by a direct breach of technical protocol.
"Chile has high rates of salmon escapes due, in large part, to the current weak regulations applicable to this situation. We expect the new government to enforce this new created regulation with the measures to prevent escapes, as required by the law which was recently passed, "said Munoz.
Since 2008 Oceana has also been proposing legislative measures to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in salmon farming. In the year 2007 this amount was 600 times higher in Chile than it was in Norway, the world’s larger producer of farmed salmon. The organization praised that the plan announced by the government in March 2009 for this purpose was legally bounded in this law, so as to enforce banning the preventive use of antibiotics and the implementation of a public information system that will monitor the numbers and types of antibiotics used.
The environmental organization also insisted on the need to halt the expansion of the salmon industry to other zones of Chilean Patagonia that have high ecological value. Oceana proposed the promotion of other sustainable economic activities and not to continue to promote an industry that has been incapable of operating with respect to the environment. "The salmon aquaculture activity, as any another industry, should respect strict environmental norms. If salmon aquaculture is not capable of subsisting with these standards, then it is time to seek other economic activities to replace it in the South of Chile,” declared Muñoz.