Aquaculture for all

Talks Of Sea Privatisation Dismissed


CHILE - The head of Fisheries Subsecretariat (SUBPESCA), Jorge Chocair, fully denied that the new General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law (LGPA), which is being debated by the Treasury Commission of the Senate, proposes privatising the Chilean sea.

“This is not the case. This Law has generated an analytical approach and, during times of elections, sometimes things are said without thinking. It’s not about privatising the sea, which, by definition, belongs to all Chileans. If that were the case, the five first coastal miles and [those] surrounding the oceanic islands, which today are allocated exclusively to artisanal fishing, would also be a privatisation of the sea, and this is not so, because they are deposited in concession,” the subsecretary explained.

According to, he emphasised the quality of aquaculture and fisheries potential possessed by the country thanks to its geographic, climatic and oceanographic conditions.

Over the last 10 years, the Chilean fishery-aquaculture sector registered sustained growth, with 18 hydrobiological species harvested in about 3,000 authorised centres. According to Mr Chocair, the sector generated more than 50,000 direct and indirect jobs prior to the economic crisis, and exported more than 800,000 tonnes worth almost USD 3.0 billion in 2008.

For the subsecretary, the current law, which has been in effect since 1991, is deficient and “is not at the level of modernity that is sought to imprint on an industry that offers the potential for regional and national development.”

In addition, he noted that five macro-zones exist in Chile with regional directors for fishing activity development, but that a very wide breach subsists between the development reached by the public sector and the private one.

“It is necessary to perfect its institutionalism, introducing into it the legal modifications that the bill contemplates, we must promote the associability between small, medium and large executives and, why not? Think about the convenience of counting on a Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture,” added the Fishing Subsecretary.

Upon being consulted on the possibility that concessionaire's aquaculture rights lapsing for labour infractions can have repercussions on port concessions, Mr Chocair indicated: “The country counts on the adequate legislative tools to support the labour sector without aligning the subject of labour infractions to concessions.”

“I am in favour of dialogue for loosening these provisions and preventing them from obstructing productive activity, and if that means eliminating them, I agree on doing that. Chile has a great future in aquaculture matters and it does not seem right to me to limit the passage of the LGPA with tools of a political nature, considering that the law contains many more important aspects than those of labour infractions,” the official added.

The LGPA has been awaiting passage, in the midst of a labour and sanitary crisis that affects the salmon farming industry as a result of the outbreaks of the infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) virus.

According to reports by Diario Financiero, the formula the government would present to senators contains two key aspects: a significant rise in the amount of fines that companies that follow anti-union practices will have to pay , and a modification in the time in which the aquaculture concession would lapse.

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