(First published in Norwegian 24 Aug 2006)
By Pia Gaarder
Mainstream Chile SA, a subsidiary of the Norwegian partly government-owned company Cermaq, has been fined for overproduction of farmed salmon. This was reported by the Chilean daily newspaper “El Llanquihue” in the capital region Puerto Montt on Wednesday 23 August.
This is the first time Chilean authorities have cracked down on overproduction of farmed salmon. And it is not a matter of small violations of the production volume: at the Mainstream plant in Cheñique almost 150% too much salmon was produced. The production volume reached all of 1980 tons, whereas the plant had permission to produce only 806 tons.
Mainstream’s other plant, Vilupulli, is claimed to have produced 4 621 tons salmon, whereas it had permission to produce only 3 281 tons. In other words, there was an overproduction of 41%.
Both the Mainstream plants are located on the island of Chiloé, where a large part of the Chilean fish-farming industry is concentrated.
No Comments, Yet
Geir Isaksen, Group Managing Director of Cermaq, does not want to comment on the news yet, since he has not had a chance to speak to Mainstream in Chile. “I am not familiar with this concrete case. It would be wrong of me to make a comment before I have talked with our people in Chile. And there they have barely gotten up,” Isaksen said.
“But what are the regulations about this in Chile?”
“Chile has concession limits with regard to biomass, and the regulations are much like those we have in Norway,” Isaksen answered.
“But isn’t a violation of the concession limit of this magnitude quite gross?”
“As I said, I don’t want to comment on the case before I have more detailed knowledge,” Isaksen answered.
The Chilean regional newspaper writes that the overproduction was discovered after the environmental protection authorities looked through the production numbers that Mainstream Chile had given to the Ministry of Fisheries.
The fine for the violations is at 3 million pesos for each of the two plants. This amounts to no more than NOK 71 000 (approx. €8600).
Several of the other members of the Chilean fish-farming industry have produced more than permitted. These cases are still under consideration by the environmental protection authorities.
Norwatch has asked Maren Esmark, marine coordinator in the WWF, how a similar violation would be treated in Norway, since the fine for such a great production violation appears to be very small.
“Violations of the regulations are given relatively low penalties in Norway too. This is also true of the penalty level for fish escapes and for dumping of sick fish,” Maren Esmark explained.
Don Staniford in Pure Salmon Campaign is, for his part, merciless in his criticism of Cermaq:
“The Norwegian multinational company Cermaq exports problems all over the globe, from Scotland to British Columbia, and not least to Chile. This fine is only the last in a long line of fines that Cermaq has been given during the last few years, but it is only a drop in the ocean for a company with such large profits,” Staniford told Norwatch.
He added that Cermaq has to clean up after itself and start using closed systems to prevent discharges of large amounts of wastes and chemicals, salmon escapes, and spreading of diseases and salmon louse.