From Free Fishermen to Salmon Industry Waste Collectors: This is the Impact of the Privatisation of the Chilean Sea

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They are removing 90 cubic meters of inorganic waste per month, from the two coastal areas in the patagonian region Aysén.

Aysén Region, Chilean Patagonia, January 20, 2020 (Ecoceanos News). As a consequence of the corrupt privatisation of Chilean fisheries, linked to the collapse and overexploitation of 70% of the main commercial fishery resources, artisanal fishing in the Aysén Region is facing an acute social and environmental crisis.

This dramatic situation is allowing for the companies, as well as the regional services of the Chilean State, to push for a forced conversion of artisanal fishermen in order to transform them to a temporary and low-cost labour force available for work associated with the salmon industry.

An expression of this crude socio-environmental reality is the recent regional public-private agreement, signed last year between the Ministry of Economy, the employers’ organisation Salmón Chile A.G., and the regional government.

See: Gobierno firma acuerdo con la industria salmonera para potenciar su impacto productivo en el territorio de Aysén

Among the various established agreements, lies the incentivising of contracting artisanal fishermen for the cleanup of beaches and collection of fishing baits, buoys, and polystyrene foam residue, which all form part of the high volumes of inorganic waste emitted by the contaminating salmon industry in the region.

After less than a year, four companies are already offering beach clean-up services to the salmon-farming industry, with a total of 60 direct and indirect workers. Servicio Nacional de Pesca (Sernapesca) and the Chilean Navy participate in this public-private activity.

90 tonnes of inorganic waste are removed per month.

One of the established companies is the Sociedad Pesquera Canal Darwin, which contracts seven fishermen directly to carry out the cleanup of local beaches, especially in the areas of Puerto Aguirre and the Moraleda Channel, in the Aysén Region. This temporary project, which is set to last for a year, and then on a renewable basis, is financed by the employers’ organisation SalmonChile.

In an interview with, Misael Ruiz, owner of the micro-enterprise Sociedad Pesquera Canal Darwin, states that they are removing 90 cubic meters of inorganic waste per month, from the two coastal areas in the patagonian region Aysén.

“We deliver the separated waste to the waste-management company Reciclajes Martino, making it important labour in circular economy of the Aysén region, and we hope that this is not only a pilot project that is renewed every year as an obligation to perform the beach cleanup work, but as a work with a long-term outlook, that we also carry out with Sernapesca and the Navy,” he emphasises.

Meanwhile, Ruiz is happy to have transformed himself to a micro-entrepreneur with ties to the salmon industry of the Aysén Region. “I have my people, seven direct employees, with their contracts and daily wages. And indirectly, I give work to another eight people, making it 15 then, occupying two boats and performing services just in this zone. It’s not a minor activity that we generate…”