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Boycotts and Bans Hit Chilean Salmon

CHILE - An international boycott of Chilean-raised salmon has once more been threatened by the Aysns Association of Artisan Fishing Organizations. It says that unless the government fails to declare a moratorium on the countrys US$2.2 billion farmed salmon industry, it will take action.

Reports in the Santiago Times, say the AGO will upgrade its campaign against the expansion of the salmon industry on 8 May by starting an international boycott of salmon produced in Chile

The warning comes within a month of the organisation first demanding a freeze on further expansion of salmon industry. It has called for President Michelle Bachelet to make good a promise made in 2006 to stop awarding aquaculture concessions for large-scale farming until studies are conducted to determine exactly how much fish farming waters and ecosystems can handle.

The AGO and other critics of the once booming salmon industry claim current policies ride roughshod on workers’ rights and on the environment. It says that intensive fish farming is creating tremendous amounts of organic pollution that is creating “dead zones” in the surrounding waters. Lack of serious regulation has also allowed salmon companies to pump their fish with antibiotics at levels unheard of in other salmon producing countries. These and other environmental consequences are taking a major toll on native fish species and consequently the local fishing sector.

The AGO, which comprises 16 local fishermen groups, is particularly concerned about industry expansion into the relatively clean and disease-free waters of Region XI, an area of northern Patagonia also known as Aysén.

Another Blow

Adding another blow to the Chilean Salmon industry has been waged by Brazilian beef exporters. They are have backed a ban on salmon from Chile because of concerns over the safety of the fish.

The exporters' association Abiec said it had backed the ministry of agriculture in its ban on the import of fruit from Chile because of a mite, so it also needed to take similar action against the threat from Chilean salmon.

Antonio Camardelli, the executive director of Abiec said that Chile had banned Brazilian beef from its market since October 2005, because of the discovery of foot and mouth disease in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The action was now unjustified.

He said that the Chilean aquaculture system not only does not declare that it uses astaxanthin to colour the salmon sold in Brazil, but it also faces problems with a virus, infectious anaemia, that is affecting fish farms in the country. The spread of the virus is also raising questions about the increasing use of antibiotics to treat the salmon.

He said that the fish farms ought to declare the use of astaxanthin, which is used to make farmed fish pink. The chilean aquaculture industry also used green malachite, which is a known carcinogen.

This, he said, had already been detected by the EU's rapid detection system and the virus is decimating millions of salmon destined for the US, Japanese and EU markets.

View the Santiago Times story by clicking here.