Marine Harvest Violates Environmental and Labor Laws in Chile

The Center Ecoceanos and Eicosal trade union of Chile, are accusing fishing and salmon Norwegian transnational corporation Marine Harvest (in Chile Marine Harvest Chile SA) for the systematic pollution of the aquatic ecosystems and for the repeated violations of the environmental and labor laws in Los Lagos and Aysen regions in Chile.

Marine Harvest (MH) is responsible for the health, environmental and labor crisis in the southern regions of Chile, where it has begun to close down salmonculture centers and factories, firing thousands of workers.

MH is the result of the association -in December of 2006- of Norwegian companies Pan Fish and Fjord Seafood , which acquired the samonculture section of Dutch company Nutreco, thus creating MH Group.

The company is installed in Chile, which besides having exceptional natural conditions, it has one of the laxest legislations in terms of foreign investments, leading to an uninterrupted growth of Chilean salmon production in the past fifteen years (it grew 15% annually on average, multiplying its exports volume by thirteen). Furthermore, the revenues would reach 3 billion dollars annually by 2013, turning Chile into the world's first producer and exporter, even before Norway.

All this growth was possible at the expense of lowest labor and environmental standards registered in this industry. Besides the long working days, low salaries, higher accident rates and death rates, the high rate of violations to labor, health and environmental rights, plus the anti-unionist practices, the violation of gender rights, such as the lack of protection to maternity; conflicts with coastline communities, native peoples, craft fishing, tourism agents; destructive occupation of highly vulnerable ecosystems such as lakes and fiords; illegal cultivation centers; irresponsible use of antibiotics; use of banned chemicals”, such is the case of malachite green oxalate (a banned fungicide) and/or colorants.

So much so, that in February of 2007, the United Kingdom decided to put under “quarantine” and to freeze the imports of maritime products from Chile when it found banned chemical substances in MH salmon.

The fear of world consumers before these cases led to the closure of several markets for Chilean products, causing the closing down of several factories “and the firing of thousands of workers in Puerto Montt, Chiloe and Aysen”.

For this reason it demands the Chilean authorities to establish a “moratorium” on the granting of aquiculture concessions, until the State has regularized the use of antibiotics and chemicals used by the salmon industry.

Key issues: Precarization and exploitation of labour

Denouncing organizations: Centro Ecoceanos y Sindicato Eicosal 2 de la Multinacional noruega Marine Harvest (Chile)