Massive salmon escape in Patagonia: Citizen action to stop the destruction of the sea and the future of coastal communities

35 comunidades indígenas y organizaciones ciudadanas respaldan boycot contra el consumo de “salmón químico industrial” de Chile
Escape de salmones en Lago Llanquihue podría generar gran impacto a ecosistemas y comunidades de Río Maullín


Our coastal maritime territory, its rich marine biodiversity, and the social, economic and cultural interests of indigenous communities, territorial organizations and regional citizens, are once again affected by a massive escape of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), which occurred in the cultivation center “Caicura”, from Blumar company in the Reloncaví estuary, Los Lagos Region. This serious situation shows the ineffectiveness of the contingency plans that the farming centers present to the government authorities, often only for complying with the laws.

The damaged center which had, according to the company itself, 875,144 salmon in the fattening stage, is located inside the Native People’s Coastal Marine Space (EMCPO in Spanish) «Mañihueico-Huinay», which is currently in the process of “maritime destination”, and that it has as managers a large number of indigenous communities in the Hualaihué commune, and close to another ECMPO request from the Mapuche-Lafkenche community “Daniel Cheuqueman” of the Mari Meli island, Cochamó commune.

This is the second largest mass escape of farmed salmon in the history of that area. In 2018, approximately 900,000 salmon escaped from the Piedra Redonda center, of the Norwegian transnational Marine Harvest, today Mowi, in Huar Island, Calbuco commune,south Chile..

On the current occasion, it is striking that both the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) and the salmon company Blumar have not delivered the number and volume of the escaped salmon, despite the fact that it was in the process of harvesting.

Environmental impacts

– Escaped and naturalized salmon in waters of the Los Lagos region constitute an invasive and carnivorous pest introduced from the northern hemisphere, which devours the various species of native fish. Indeed, they are characterized by preying on various local marine species, such as the endemic Puye (Galaxia maculatus), and juvenile specimens of hake, southern sardines and silverside, among others, all of great importance for food chains, the feeding of citizens, and the economy of coastal communities, indigenous peoples and artisanal fishermen.

Also they actively compete with native aquatic species for food and habitat, while also transferring viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. Furthermore are added processes of organic and chemical contamination by antibiotics and antiparasitics in ecosystems and marine-coastal biodiversity.

– The bureaucratic legal obligation of article 118 of the General Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture (LGPA) that obliges companies to recover 10% of escaped fish is just a testimonial figure, not proportional to the severity of these health, social and environmental disasters. No scientific information supports the presumption that 90% of salmon specimens that will not be recovered will have no impact on marine biodiversity and the food chain.

– The impunity that accompanies massive salmon escapes in the Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes regions in recent decades shows that Chilean aquaculture regulations are tailored to the interests of large salmon companies, and not on the protection of the country’s marine-environmental heritage.

Also, the Environmental Qualification Resolutions (RCA in spanish)  of the salmon farming concessions do not contemplate any measure of reparation, compensation and / or mitigation of the negative sanitary and environmental impacts derived from the escapes of millions of farmed salmons.

– As independent organizations, we will not accept the recurrence of one of the biggest frauds in Chilean salmon farming, such as the escape of 900,000 salmon from the Punta Redonda fattening center, Calbuco commune, Los Lagos region, owned by the Norwegian transnational Mowi / Marine Harvest in 2018, where this salmon farm violated the LGPA, achieving that Sernapesca extended the legal term of fish recapture from 30 to 70 days, and made an «express agreement» with local artisanal fishermen to make false legal declarations, after paying money, claiming to have «spontaneously» caught a standardized number of salmon fugitives, receiving ideologically false tickets from the company for services not rendered.

After two years of the massive escape, the Norwegian salmon farm, which only recaptured 5.7% of the escaped specimens, has not received any sanction for violating the LGPA. Furthermore, Mowi / Marine Harvest has legally sued Sernapesca because according to the multinational, Sernapeca would have exceeded its supervisory attributions, that in its case the presumption of environmental damage should not have been applied, and because according to Mowi, the consumption of recaptured salmon, which had been treated with antibiotics, had no effect on human health.

For all of the above, the organizations and signatories:

-We summon the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service to make transparent and publicly deliver all the information regarding this third case of massive salmon escapes that occurred in the last three months in southern Chile

-We demand that Sernapesca apply the deadlines and requirements for the recovery of the escaped specimens contemplated in the LGPA

– We require the Aquaculture Stewardship Council to apply the condition of its CUP-C 865128-ASC-01-2019-SL certification seal to the “Caicura” farming center in force until November 13, 2021, which only allows the escape of 300 specimens of salmon by production cycle (Criterion 3.4. Escapes. ASC Salmon Standard.Version 1.3-July 2019)

-To audit the contingency plans of the damaged farming center presented by Blumar.

-To incorporate independent observers to monitor the entire process of recapturing escaped salmon from the «Caicura» center of the salmon company Blumar

-The establishment of a monitoring and control plan for the escape area and the adjacent rivers and estuaries, for at least three years.

-To categorize escaped salmon as an invasive pest that puts national aquatic ecosystems at risk.

-To implement an epidemiological surveillance program of bacterial resistance in the salmon producing south regions.

-To establish independent scientific monitoring to analyze the environmental, health and social impacts of salmonid escapes in the Los Lagos, Aysen and Magallanes regions

-To expire the environmental permits (Resolution of Environmental Qualification) of this cultivation center of Blumar company.

We call on citizens and social organizations, restaurants, commerce and national and international consumers to exclude chemical salmon from an industrial hatchery, from their purchases and menus, due to the destructive environmental, health and labor impacts it causes, violating the rights of workers. and the local communities of southern Chile, as a consequence of the process of forced salmo-industrialization of the coastal territories of southern Chile.

Underwritten by:

– Wendy Cheuqueman, Presidenta Comunidad Indígena “Daniel Cheuquemán” de Cochamó

– Richard Roman Ojeda Santana, Presidente Sindicato «Mar de Todos Marichiweu» de Ancud

– Cecilia Calisto Santana, Presidenta del Sindicato Río Quempillen de Pudeto, Ancud

– Otilia Guerrero Guerrero, Presidenta Comunidad Indígena “Reñinhué” de Chayahué, Calbuco,

– Johana Coñuecar, en representación de parte de la Asociación de Comunidades titulares del ECMPO Mañihueico-Huinay

– Rosa Peránchiguay Cárdenas, Presidenta de la Comunidad Indígena “Ayulen Mapu” y vocera de la Asociación de Comunidades Indígenas titulares del ECMPO Mañihueico-Huinay, comuna de Hualaihué.

– María Eduvina Leutun Marín, Presidenta de la C. I. Amutuy Ruca, de Pichicolo, comuna de Hualaihué.

– Clementina Lepio Melipichúen, Lonko de la Comunidad Mapuche Williche Alto del Fundo Gamboa, comuna de Castro

– Francisco Vera Millaquén, Miembro de la CRUBC, representante de las comunidades indígenas de Los Lagos

– Leticia Caro, Representante Comunidad Kawésqar Grupos familiares Nómades del Mar .

– Rosa Aguila , Representante de la comunidad Kawésqar, Residentes en Río Primero

– Haydee Aguila , Representante de la Comunidad Kawésqar Ata’p

– Comunidad Yagan de Bahia Mejillones

– Comite cultural de puerto Williams

– Ciudadanos y clima

– Agrupacion «territorio yagan sin salmoneras»

– Movimiento Defendamos Chiloe

– Movimiento Chiloé taPrivao

– Escuela Superior Campesina Curaco de Velez, Estudiando y profesorado

– Peter Hartmann, Presidente Agrupación Aisén Reserva de Vida

– Juan Carlos Cárdenas, director del Centro Ecocéanos

– Dr. Tarsicio Antesana Presidente de ADAC

– ADAC, Asociación para la Defensa del Ambiente y la Cultura de Chiloé

– ANAMURI, Asociación Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas

– Newenmuri

– Centro de Conservación Cetácea

– ACUE, Agrupación Ciudadana de Ultima Esperanza

– Fundación Melimoyu

– CODEFF, Aisén

– Centro Ecoceanos

– CESCH, Centro de Estudios Sociales de Chiloé

– CONFEPACH, Confederación Nacional de Federaciones de Pescadores Artesanales

– Federación de Pescadores Artesanales de Corral


– Fundación Peumalemu Desarrollo Sustentable, Comuna de Calbuco

– Agrupación Cultural, Turística y Medioambiental Mar y Tierra, Comuna de Hualaihue.

– Coordinadora No Más violencia de Género Puerto Montt

– ONG Alerce Andino, Estuario de Reloncavi

– Fundación de Conservación Marina, Defensa de Río Maullín