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Catch to Chile's Salmon Farm Law

CHILE - The Senates Fishing Commission is currently reviewing a bill designed to steer Chiles sinking salmon industry back into clear waters. But while industry representatives say they desperately need the so-called Sandoval Law, environmental, labor and artisan fishing groups warn that it comes with a major catch.

For the past two years Chile’s US$2.4 billion salmon industry has suffered a prolonged slide triggered by the outbreak in mid 2007 of a costly and yet-to-be-contained fish virus known as Infectious Salmon Anemia, or ISA, reports PatagoniaTimes. Since then salmon companies have gone into increasing debt and shed thousands of jobs.

According to PatagoniaTimes, the Chilean government responded to the problem last year by convening an emergency task force. Led by Fisheries Undersecretary Felipe Sandoval, the team came up with a series of recommendations for how to get the industry back on its feet (PT, April 24, 2008). With input from both industry heads and financial institutions, the task force eventually organized its recommendations into a bill – the Sandoval Law – that if approved will make several modifications to Chile’s General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law.

The centerpiece of the legislation is a plan to create “areas of sanitary management” or “neighborhoods,” as they’ve been dubbed. The concept is essentially to organize Chile’s coastal waters into a handful of production zones that would be more environmentally friendly and easier for the state to monitor.

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