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Chilean authorities file suit against Nova Austral for environmental damage

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Chile’s State Defence Council (CDE) is suing Nova Austral for damages to the sea floor stemming from farm operations in the Magallanes region.

salmon cages in Chile
Salmon cages in Chile

The case alleges that the discharge of agents has caused significant damage to the surrounding water column and sediments on the sea floor

The CDE presented their case in Chile’s Third Environmental Court, claiming compensation for environmental damages from Nova Austral’s farming activities. The case sites series damage from salmon overproduction and dumping of polluting agents on the seabed without authorisation. The affected regions include the Alberto de Agostini National Park in Chile’s Southern fjords, the Magallanes region and the Chilean Antarctic.

The CDE lawsuit is based on a previous criminal investigation that is currently going through the Future Guarantee Court. That case is focusing on technical inputs provided by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service and sanctions issued by the Superintendent of the Environment (SMA) that allege Nova Austral exceeded production volumes at multiple production sites. This suit also alleges that the firm discharged contaminating agents on the seabed.

The discharge of agents has caused significant damage to the surrounding water column and sediments on the sea floor; and has degraded the marine ecosystem near aquaculture production areas. The CDE says that the discharge of pollutants has negatively impacted the ecosystem in a legally protected national park, putting its recovery in doubt.

Magallanes region of Chile
Magallanes region of Chile

The CDE says that aquaculture activities in the Magallanes region have caused environmental damage

Nova Austral has experienced previous criminal complaints from Chile’s environmental regulator, including one from April 2020 that alleges that the company provided false data on salmon mortality rates and its production capacity between 2015 and 2019. The case is investigating whether the firm committed subsidy fraud by illegally receiving benefits and whether they damaged the hydrobiological resources at their farm leases by dumping pollutants into the environment. This case is still being investigated.

Read more about the case here.

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