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Salmon Image Attracts Disaster in Chile

CHILE - Chile's salmon industry, which has been devastated by recurrent outbreaks of Infectious Salmon Anemia, is now facing serious image problems due to the way it has handled this problem.

According to The Patagonia Times, the once-booming industry’s long list of opponents continues to grow and includes environmental groups, union leaders, artisan fishing organizations, tourism operators and some legislators. Industry critics say its rapid expansion over the past 20 years, while providing thousands of jobs, has come at the expense of the environment and workers’ rights.

The Patagonia Times states: this past January the influential Santiago-based NGOs Fundación Terram and Oxfam Chile began highlighting the industry’s questionable labor and environmental practices through a campaign called “Not Afraid To Go Against The Current”.

A separate campaign has emerged in recent months over the industry’s planned expansion into Patagonia. The numerous organizations involved in the latter – dubbed the “moratorium” movement – are calling on Chilean authorities to cease issuing concessions to companies planning to set up shop in the country’s far southern Aysén and Magallanes Regions.

But critics of the US$2.2 billion industry can be found outside of Chile. This past March the New York Times (NYT) ran an article entitled “Salmon Virus Indicts Chile’s Fishing Methods.” The article raised serious questions about Chilean aquaculture practices, suggesting among other things that producers overuse antibiotics, reports The Patagonia Times.