Aysén, Chile, April 30, 2021 (Ecoceanos News). The new death of a diver in a salmon farming center from the mega company Aqua Chile, owned by the Agrosúper holding, marks the average of one worker death per month in this billionaire export industry during 2021.
The diver-shellfish diver Andrés Alejandro Teigel Coliague (41), died while lifting the moorings of the rafts-cages of the Gala 2 culture center, located in the Aysén region.
As is customary in the Chilean salmon industry, Teigel worked sub-contracted by the SGM Austral company.
In the Patagonian region of Aysen, there is an exponential territorial and productive increase in salmon monoculture, which is being accompanied by a procession of successive deaths of divers. This is other consequence of the precarious working conditions in this industry that uses the «temporary subcontracting system» of workers, without the intervention of the regional authorities, the Directorate of Maritime Territory (Directemar), dependent on the Chilean Navy, the Labour Inspection, and state agencies.
For the mega company Aqua Chile, this is the second death of a subcontracted diver in its farming centers this year. On February 9, Héctor Lagos Peñailillo, (42), died due to the precarious diving protocols that exist in a farming center in the town of Melinka. The worker had been sub-hired by the Society for Aquaculture Projects and Submarine Services (Passub). Previously, on January 25, 2021, a 16-year-old adolescent diver died while doing underwater work in a salmon farm near Ipun Island, also in the Melinka area.
On February 25, 2021, the artisanal fisher diver Cristian Diaz (60) died in the Concheo 2 farming center, Aysen region, owned by the mega-company Salmones Blumar. Díaz had been sub-contracted by the company Servicios Prime SpA.
As is customary in these cases, the company AquaChile, the world’s second largest producer of salmon, said in a brief statement that “we deeply regret the death of Andres Alejandro Teigel Coliague, a worker at the SGM Austral company. SGM Austral is a company specialized in engineering and anchoring works that is currently authorized by the Maritime Authority (…)
At the time of the unfortunate accident, the company provided material transfer services from an unused concession to a similar one. These tasks are always supervised by the Maritime Authority. Although the sea concession belongs to AquaChile, at the time of the accident it was empty, without fish or company operations, since there was no fattening center in the place.
According to records from the Ecoceanos Centre and salmon workers organizations, during the last seven years 60 workers have died in the farming centers, processing plants and shipping and land transport, while carrying out tasks for these aquaculture companies.
This reality is invisible between the successful export figures and the generation of foreign exchange. However, growing statistics show the precarious labor security conditions prevailing in the second largest producer and exporter of farmed salmon in the world, and the main supplier of the consumption of these products in the United States.
International markets and consumers are already identifying Chilean productions as the «blood salmon from the south of the world,» Ecoceanos Centre said. Veterinarian Juan Carlos Cárdenas, Director of Ecoceanos Centre, pointed out that «this cruel reality places Chile as the place with the highest mortality and accident rate in the salmon farming industry worldwide.»
Cárdenas pointed out that «this labor reality existing in the coastal regions of southern Chile is more typical of a third world country than of the second largest producer and exporter of farmed salmonids in the world.»
Ecoceanos Centre highlighted the fact that to the “situation of lack of security and job insecurity, it must be added that the ones who work for subcontractors, have high prevalences of occupational diseases due to long hours on their feet, with repetitive jobs, in conditions of high humidity and low temperatures, or long days of diving in the cage rafts at depths close to 30 meters, without the necessary safeguards ”.
The citizen organization called «the social movement, international consumers, NGOs and workers’ organizations to pressure with the aim of stopping the third-world death figures of Chilean salmon workers, a consequence of the neoliberal policies of labor deregulation, added to the corporate greed, the double standards of transnational companies, and the complicity of the Chilean State ”.