Aquaculture for all

Chile Reduce Anitibiotic Use in Salmon Farms

CHILE - The international marine conservation organization, Oceana, celebrated an announcement made today by the Chilean government regarding the elaboration of a plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in salmon farming.

The Salmon Task Force, led by the Chilean Minister of Economy, aims to identify the problems affecting salmon farming and possible solutions. To this end, it released today its second report on the measures to be adopted to address the sanitary crisis that has affected the salmon sector this year. The report includes, among other measures, the creation of a plan by December 2008 to reduce antibiotic use in the salmon industry. As such, the “Salmon Group” accepted Oceana’s proposal to create a plan outlining a decrease in the use of these chemicals.

"After seeing the problems caused by salmon farming in the Los Lagos Region, it is clear that an in-depth assessment of the environmental and health costs and implications in this area must be undertaken"
Alex Muñoz, Oceana’s Executive Director.

The environmental organization believes that the excessive use of antibiotics in salmon farming –over 200 tons of antibiotics per year– is one of the most serious problems triggered by this activity, both in terms of environmental impacts and the public health risks implied by the overuse of these substances. “The announcement made by the Salmon Task Force is a first step toward reducing the use of antibiotics in the salmon industry. Oceana has insisted in the urgency of having new regulations for these chemicals that would drastically reduce the amount used in salmon farming. These regulations should prohibit antibiotics from the quinolone family and only permit the use of approved antibiotics for treatment, never for prevention. We will continue to collaborate in this process to ensure that the reduction plan is effective and includes these scientific criteria,” stated Alex Muñoz, Oceana’s Executive Director.

Work to formulate the plan for reducing antibiotic use will begin with a review of information and scientific studies during August, followed by an analysis of international regulations in September, the definition of concrete objectives for the reduction plan in October, stakeholder discussions in November, and, finally, the release of the reduction plan in December 2008.

Oceana also criticized the Chilean government for its continued support for the expansion of the salmon farming industry while aquaculture-related legislation is under revision. A few weeks ago, Oceana formally requested that the Ministry of Economy suspend the awarding of aquaculture concessions at least until the regulations have been revised. “The logical move is to suspend the awarding of all concessions in Chilean Patagonia, at least while the regulations are being revised and until it is proven that the salmon industry sanitary crisis is effectively controlled and the sector’s future has been defined. Right now, the minimum guarantees for ensuring the conservation of Patagonia and its natural wealth are missing in the face of high-impact activities like salmon farming,” indicated Alex Muñoz.

Presently, 1,083 requests for salmon concessions are in processing in the Magallanes Region, which would increase the region’s current number of awarded salmon concessions by 2,541%. In the Aysén Region, the latest figures indicate that 1,141 concession requests are in processing.

“After seeing the problems caused by salmon farming in the Los Lagos Region, it is clear that an in-depth assessment of the environmental and health costs and implications in this area must be undertaken prior to deciding to push forward the industry’s expansion into southern Chile, particularly when the first cases of the ISA virus in Magallanes have already been reported,” added Oceana’s Director.

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