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Scathing report on Chiles booming salmon industry

CHILE - The environmental NGO Ecoceanos has released a scathing report on Chiles 2.2 billion US dollars farmed salmon industry, the worlds second largest after Norway

“X-Ray of the Chilean Salmon Industry,” details the industry’s shoddy labor and environmental record, and was distributed this week to the Chilean and Norwegian embassies in Washington DC

The 40-page document, based on information collected from government and union sources, notes that 52 salmon industry workers have died in Chile since 2005. Norway, by contrast, has not registered a single industry death since 2000.

Twelve of those deaths involved divers, thousands of which work for the industry maintaining net systems or retrieving dead fish from the bottom of pens. In fact, around the island of Chiloé (Region X), three divers have perished in just the past three months.

Diving is a particularly dangerous job as the divers can easily get caught up in netting and end drowning. They also risk developing Acute Decompression Illness, also known as “the bends,” a potentially fatal condition that occurs when divers ascend too rapidly and/frequently. Some divers have even been attacked by sea lions, which tend to collect around salmon farms.

According to Cristián Soto, president of the Puerto Montt-based Professional Divers Union (SIBUP), the salmon industry offers little in the way of protection. Divers, for example, are routinely expected to descend beyond regulation depths: 36 meters for qualified “intermediate” divers.

“For those of us who work on installing and maintaining the nets, this is something that happens to us every day. Every day we go down further than we’re supposed to. Why do we do it? Because if we don’t, we’ll be out of work,” the SIPUB president told the Patagonia Times in a recent interview.

Source: Mercopress


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