FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2007
Dave Bard, 202.486.4426
Mismanagement, lack of information pose serious problems as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) crisis looms
Chilean trade association blocks environmental stakeholders from attending ISA conference
PUERTO VARAS, Chile On November 19, SalmonChile, an industry trade association, and Sernapesca, the Chilean national fisheries service, began its two-day workshop on ISA, a highly contagious disease affecting farmed salmon, but barred environmental organizations from participating in the meeting and gaining access to key information.
ISA is a virus that can be lethal to fish, but does not affect humans. Inadequate quality control of fish eggs at salmon farms has already led to massive ISA outbreaks. Sea lice can make matters even worse. These small parasites act as a vector of ISA and help transmit the disease between farm sites. The density of open net cages and large populations of sea lice in the surrounding waters provide ISA with the ability to quickly spread within Chile’s highly concentrated salmon farming region.
The massive ISA outbreak that affected several Chilean salmon farms this past summer was not an isolated or minor issue. That outbreak forced Sernapesca, the Chilean fisheries agency and co-host of the ISA workshop, to conduct an emergency harvest and slaughter more than one million infected farmed salmon.
"Despite what the industry and government would have you believe, Chilean salmon farming is riddled with problems," said Cristian Perez, Chilean representative, Pure Salmon Campaign. "Escapes, labor issues, sea lice, worker deaths and now Infectious Salmon Anemia are detrimentally impacting the marine environment, local communities and the economy. Moving salmon farms out of the disease-infected and sea lice infested areas and into pristine areas is not a solution-- it is just moving the problem elsewhere."
ISA and the sea lice crisis are symptomatic of the wider problems with the Chilean salmon farming industry. Those problems include overproduction, lack of regulation, lack of separation between government and industry, lack of transparency/information and precedence of economic interests over environmental and social concerns.
"The Chilean government is aiding and abetting the closed door policy of its salmon industry by refusing to provide access to information," said Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pure Salmon Campaign. "This blind eye toward environmental mismanagement and the refusal of the Chilean government to take action against the industry will continue to hurt all those connected to this industry from consumers to investors in these companies. "It is not just the industry that should be ashamed in this situation, but the government as well, for failing to do its job in regulating this industry."
In a recent press release, Marine Harvest, the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon and one of the companies most affected by this summer’s massive ISA outbreak, stated that, "Low harvest volumes are expected in Chile in Q4 due to the biological situation . . . The market conditions for Atlantic salmon and the ISA situation in Chile is challenging. . . Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) (Norwegian - ILA) has been found in Chile, also in sites of Marine Harvest. Production in Chile will be reduced in the short term."
"Shares in Norwegian-owned companies operating in Chile such as Marine Harvest and Cermaq were in freefall last week," said Bart Naylor, consultant, Pure Salmon Campaign. "Companies are fast realizing that poor environmental and social performance can drain financial resources. The ISA and sea lice problem of the Chilean salmon farming industry is a self-inflicted wound."
Producers and government authorities need to communicate with all relevant stakeholders to address and fix the major problems plaguing the salmon farming industry.
- For more background on ISA in Chile and globally, click here [PDF].
- For more information on Chilean salmon farming, click here.
The Pure Salmon Campaign (www.puresalmon.org) is a global project of the National Environmental Trust. It has partners in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Chile all working to improve the way salmon is produced.