Ecoceanos Centre noted that five workers in the salmon industry have died this year, two of whom were divers, due to the precarious working safety conditions. In 2022, five workers died, three of whom were divers, including the accident of Kateryn Pérez Moraga, a 30-year-old female diver, who died at a depth of 27 meters.
Aysén, Chile, October 16, 2023. (Ecoceanos News). A new death of a worker in the salmon farming industry occurred during the 2023 season. Diver Víctor Alex Soto Soto (50 years old) died on October 10, while extracting dead fish from the bottom of the cage rafts of the salmon farming center «Estero Frío», located in the Aysén region, Chilean Patagonia.
As in previous cases, the diver Víctor Alex Soto who worked for this salmon center of Exportadora Los Fiordos, owned by the company AquaChile, was subcontracted by the diving company «Héctor Molina Ltda”. As a result of the integration of the former AquaChile, Los Fiordos, Salmones Magallanes and the assets of the salmon area of Friosur, AquaChile is the largest producer in Chile and the second largest in the world.
Earlier, on July 24, Esteban Vargas Galarce (62 years old), a diver’s assistant, died when he was hit on his head by an iron structure during operations at the «Williams» salmon farming center, Clarence Island, Aysén Region.
This worker was subcontracted by the company Servicios Acuícolas Integrales Vigmar to work for the salmon farming company MultiExport (MultiX), jointly owned by the U.S. multinational Cargill, the Japanese transnational Mitsui and the Chilean businessman José Gutiérrez.
The subcontractor Vigmar has a staff of 100 divers who provide services to large salmon farms such as Ventisquero (German capital), Australis Seafood (Chinese capital), AquaChile (Chilean group AgroSúper) and MultiX.
During the ten months already elapsed in 2023, five workers have died in industrial salmon farming operations, two of whom were divers aged 50 and 62.
In 2022, five workers died, three of whom were divers, including the case of Kateryn Pérez Moraga (30 years old), a woman diver who died at a depth of 27 meters while carrying out maintenance work at a salmon farming center of the Nova Austral salmon company in the Magallanes region.
Two divers who tried to help her suffered from decompression sickness («pressure sickness»), revealing the precarious work safety of the Norwegian-North American company.
According to Ecoceanos Centre, between 2013 and 2023, 76 workers have died in this aquaculture export industry. In recent years, between 2021 and 2022, 17 workers died according to the records of the Chilean citizens’ organization.
The director of the Ecoceanos Centre, the veterinarian Juan Carlos Cárdenas, has drawn the attention of international markets and consumers to the fact that salmon productions, which reach one million tons per year and are valued at over 6 billion dollars a year, are associated with «third world» labor mortality rates of «third world character».
At the same time, he indicated that «Chile, along with holding the global salmon farming worker mortality record, has the longest working hours and the lowest wages, lack of job security, high levels of subcontracting and temporary contracts, together with a high infringement of labor and gender rights, when compared to the standards of competing salmon farming countries, such as Norway, Scotland or Canada».
Ecoceanos urged the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Jeanette Jara Román (PC), to «increase transparency regarding labor infringement in this industry, as well as the control of farming centers, processing plants and shipping and land transport activities associated with the territorial expansion of salmon farms in Chilean Patagonia”.