Salmon farms in Chilean Patagonia approved without adequate environmental evaluation

Magellanic penguin

Within Magallanes' bounds live protected species like the Magellanic penguin.

January 25, 2018

A study commissioned by the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense found that more than half of the salmon farms currently operating in the Magallanes region of Southern Patagonia have generated a partial or total lack of oxygen in the water. Nine of those are located in naturally protected areas. 

Santiago, Chile. A recent study, commissioned by the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), concluded that salmon farms located in the Magallanes region of southern Patagonia were authorized without the scientific assessments needed to ensure they would do no harm to marine life.

“After twenty years of development in other regions, the salmon industry now seeks to expand to the country’s last virgin coasts, without the necessary precautions,” explained Gladys Martínez, senior attorney of AIDA’s Marine Program. “This study demonstrates that neither the companies nor that State have done enough to avoid in Magallanes the severe environmental damage already perpetuated in other regions of the country.”

Chilean biologist Héctor Kol produced the report for AIDA, with the support of the Waitt Foundation, analyzing 261 salmon farm projects. Of them, a little less than half have already been authorized and the rest could receive their permits in the short- and medium-term. Of the 126 authorized projects, only 35 are currently in operation.

The information produced on each project includes location maps and estimations of the amount of waste being discharged into the waters. The research shows that there are large differences in the quantity of waste that the government authorized for different subsectors of the same geographic areas, without any available explanation as to why.

“This demonstrates a clear lack of scientific evaluation, necessary to guarantee the aquatic environment will be able to receive and process the authorized quantity of waste,” said Florencia Ortúzar, AIDA attorney. “More than half of the projects that are currently in operation have already generated a total or partial lack of oxygen in the waters, which seriously impacts marine life. In addition, at least nine of these oxygen-depriving projects are located in natural protected areas.”

On May 22, 2017, AIDA filed a complaint before the Superintendency of the Environment requesting the investigation of damages caused by salmon farms in Magallanes, and the sanctioning of the companies responsible.

Consult the report here.

Interactive Map of Salmon Farms here. 

More information on salmon farms in Patagonia is available here.


Press contact:

Florencia Ortúzar, AIDA attorney, +56973353135, fortuzar@aida-americas.org