Chile debates salmon-farm moratorium proposal
A heated public discussion about salmon farming has broken out in Chile following the launch of a campaign to temporarily halt expansion of the country’s lucrative but much-criticized salmon industry.
Environmental groups have formed a coalition aimed at pressing the government to impose a moratorium on new salmon-farming licenses while environmental and health problems in the industry are investigated and plans are drafted to improve regulation.
The groups cite growing concern about Chile’s salmon farms, which generate US$1.5 billion in annual export earnings but have been accused of polluting coastal waters, reducing aquatic biodiversity and posing health risks to consumers by overusing chemicals in farm operations.
“There is no doubt that the Chilean authorities do not have the capacity to investigate, control and monitor the salmon industry due to insufficient financial and human resources and little political will on the part of the government,” says Marcel Claude, director of the Santiago-based South America office of Oceana, a green group headquartered in Washington, D.C.