CONTACTO     INGLÉS
 
INICIO
OLACH
SALA DE PRENSA
AGENDA
TESTIMONIO
COLUMNAS DE OPINION
VITRINA GENERO
LEGISLACION LABORAL
LEGISLACION AMBIENTAL
DOCUMENTOS
BALLENAS
PURE SALMON CAMPAIGN
SALMON-DIALOGUE
CAMPAÑAS
PROGRAMA RADIO OLACH
ARCHIVO BOLETINES
LINKS DE INTERES
BUSCADOR ESPECIFICO

¿Está de acuerdo con la firma del Convenio UPOV 91?

No
Desconozco la información
 
Salmon Farming in Chile: An Unsustainable Prospect Imprimir

Written by Rodrigo Pizarro CEO Terram Foundation
Chile is the world’s second-biggest salmon producer today. If current production trends continue it will become the biggest. Chile has been so successful and competitive in the world market that it has been investigated for dumping by the USITC and is currently under investigation by the European Union. How did a small country in which salmon is not a native species become such a major world player?

The explanation lies in the intensive fish-farm production in the southern regions of Chile, where cheap labor is readily available and there is an immense coast line and pristine fresh-water lakes. The result is an extremely competitive industry that can realistically project over 50 percent of world production by the year 2010.

But this current production trend is clearly unsustainable, since its competitive edge lies in not internalizing environmental and social costs. Of the total revenue generated by the industry, 57 percent goes to material inputs, 31 percent to gross profits and just 12 percent to wages. Moreover, most workers earn minimum wage: less than US$200 a month.

Poor wages notwithstanding, environmental considerations have become the biggest sticking point in the industry’s growth. Even if one can overlook the logic of an industry that uses the protein value of approximately four fish to produce just one fish, which generally goes to a consumer from a high-income bracket, the environmental impact on ecosystems is significant. A recent study estimated that the ecological footprint of fish farm is up to 10,000 times the actual area used for production.

In the case of Chile, despite the fact that salmon farming is a major industry, only fragmentary studies exist of the environmental impact of fish farms. A preliminary study by Fundación Terram estimated that the byproducts of farm production (nitrogen and phosphorus) are equivalent to the untreated human waste of over 3 million people, three times more than the current population of the regions where production is carried out.

A more detailed study, in which samples were taken (probably the first publicly available study of its kind in Chile), reports three disturbing findings: a significant amount of nitrogen and phosphate is present in the water column of fish-farm areas; the areas show a major fall in biodiversity; and the farms result in the systematic death or killing of sea lions.

Particularly worrying is the evidence of copper in the water column, which can be explained by the paint used in the sea cages, but in lakes can only be explained by the use of malachite green, a fungicide based on copper that is used in Chile though prohibited here. There is evidence that malachite green may be cancerous and is toxic in large quantities.

But the industry has moved forward and is trying to make amends. Although most fish farms fulfill current legislation in Chile, the legislation is clearly insufficient. Especially worrying are the multiplicative effects of farms on common ecosystems and the chronic effects of permanent environmental damage. Neither of these issues is taken into consideration by industry proponents. Also, there is no real capacity for enforcement or control of current standards.

Salmon farming is an important industry in Chile and will remain so in the future only if it truly commits itself to sustainable production processes, fully internalizing both environmental and social costs. Otherwise, a more socially and environmentally conscious consumer will inevitably make the industry pay the price of unsustainable production practices.

 
Siguiente >

Observatorio Laboral y Ambiental de Chiloé / Errázuriz Nº 209 Ancud, Chiloé fono: (56) (65) 629684
Diseñado por GatoNaranja
Oxfam Internacional El canelo de Nos Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo Fundacion Terram