On the agreement to relocate salmon farms operating in national parks

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By Peter Hartmann
Hartmann is director of CODEFF Aysen and president of the Aysen Reserve of Life Coalition
Regarding the news of the agreement between the government and part of the salmon industry to relocate 9 concessions located in the national parks Laguna San Rafael, El Guayaneco, Magdalena Island and Bernardo O'Higgins, although we think it is excellent news and the result of the pressure that several civil society organizations have been exerting for more than a decade, it is worth making some clarifications and points.
As the Comptroller's Office has already ruled several times since 2013, the salmon farming concessions in national parks are illegal and in granting them there was obviously negligence on the part of the Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Undersecretary of the Navy, now the Armed Forces. Moreover, there are several that even have environmental permits from the time when the industry had free access. Therefore, the state institutions have the obligation to undo their own mistakes and in this they are trying to look good with the industry, relocating concessions that do not deserve it and that are much more than nine. It will be necessary to also look at the content of this agreement between the government and the industry, before celebrating and reaching a definitive opinion.
In any case, between the regions of Aysén and Magallanes we have 19 concessions from Nova Austral in the Alberto De Agostini National Park, 4 from Cooke Aquaculture in the Laguna San Rafael and El Guayaneco National Park and Biosphere Reserve, and 4 in the Magdalena Island National Park (3 from Aqua Chile and 1 from Los Fiordos). That adds up to 27! In the Los Ríos region, according to the salmon farmers themselves, there are several more. It is possible that in Magallanes there are also more.
Of the 9 indicated, which belong to Cooke and Aqua Chile and would be relocated, there is one in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park that we still have no information on. There are two of Cooke's San Rafael operations that have not been operating for some time and were apparently already under negotiation, so they do not appear on the expiring list. Their relocation to the Cupquelan Fjord, which is in the buffer zone of the biosphere reserve, where there should be no salmon farms, apart from being a gift, is not a solution and yet another mistake. The other two (Huillines 2 and 3) are being sanctioned by the Superintendency of the Environment and rewarding these transgressions by relocating them is not a good example. Moreover, Cooke's (false) defense for more than a year, which even reached the Supreme Court, is that they are not in the national park!
As for the four in Magdalena Island National Park, only three of them belong to Aqua Chile, the fourth belongs to Los Fiordos (part of the same Agrosuper group). Of these, there is one from Aqua Chile and one from Los Fiordos that are in the process of expiring and there is another one pending. To relocate them would also be a prize!
As for the fact that the relocation of concessions will also include those close to national parks, we think this is very good news and there are, for example, those in the Cupquelan Fjord and others in the Buffer Zone of the Biosphere Reserve, which total about 20, those close to Kawesqar NP, the others close to Magdalena Island NP (about 14) and those on the edge of Melimoyu NP (about 20), plus one close to Queulat NP. All of these, moreover, are in the exclusion zone of Art. 67 of the Fishing and Aquaculture Law, which the Aysén regional government has "forgotten" to fix and which in Magallanes should be fixed soon. 
Therefore, the call is not to exaggerate, to be coherent and to fulfill what is promised, to be careful not to continue making mistakes and to avoid continuing to give gifts to the industry, no matter what Christmas season we are in.

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