Chile: Another Diver Dies in the Salmon Export Industry

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Melinka, Aysén, Chile, March 17, 2020 (– Two workers from the subcontractor company Servicios Marítimos Marinetech Ltda, which performs loading and unloading tasks on the barge «O’Higgins», provider to the salmon farm company AquaChile, suffered a severe accident, falling from a pontoon in the cultivation centre island Atena, located on the island of Guaiteca, in Melinka, Aysén region.

Witnesses to the accident report that while the pontoon was maneuvering, one of the railings had given in, causing two divers to fall into the sea. The body of the deceased worker remained in the cultivation centre, waiting for the district attorney to give the order for it to be lifted and transported to the port of Melinka.

In this early 2020 accident, the supervisor of diving, Juan Luis Gallardo, passed away,  while the intermediate level diver, Maikel Salazar Rojas, suffered serious injuries with open fractures. Both divers were from Maullín, in the region of Los Lagos.

Ecoceanos: Chile exhibits world record in worker death rate in the global salmon industry

Including this new accident, two workers in the Chilean salmon industry have passed away in the first three months of 2020. Between 2019 and March 2020, Centro Ecoceanos has registered the deaths of 19 workers in workplace accidents in several cultivation centres, processing plants and maritime and ground transport activities for the export industry.

Juan Carlos Cárdenas, director of the Centro Ecoceanos, stated that «This scandalous reality, which would be more typical for a third world country and not for the second producer and exporter in the world of industrially farmed salmon, shows in an undeniable way that Chile is a country where the transnational salmon farming industry displays its highest death rates globally.»

The veterinary doctor added that «Chile has the most precarious salaries, the longest working hours, the lowest labour standards, and the highest rate of violation of gender rights and of salmon farm divers on a global level».

Workers’ Organisations Report Against Blood Salmon from the South of the World Internationally

Representatives from the Federation of Salmon Workers in Quellón (Fetrasal), CUT Llanquihue and Centro Ecoceanos, are urging representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Chilean Commision for Human Rights (CCDH) to intervene, as the low interest of the Chilean State and the salmon industry is evident, towards the intolerable deaths of workers, the application of double standards on behalf of the transnational salmon companies in Chile, the growing percentage of labour precarity, sub-contracting and externalization of employees, the establishment of temporary contracts, the purchasing of maternity jurisdiction, work in closed harbours, together with the usual high-risk diver activities in the cultivation centres in the southern parts of the country.

Since Chilean salmon production surpassed 800,000 tonnes in 2019, where the majority was allocated for exports, generating revenue of 5.1 billion dollars, the Centro Ecoceanos is informing the markets of the United States, Europe, and Argentina about the precarious labour conditions hiding behind the production of «blood salmon» originating from the industrial monocultivation of salmon in the south of Chile.