Chilean groups launch campaign to protect pristine Caleta Tortel from salmon farms

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Oceana - A network of local, national and international organizations have launched the campaign “Tortel free from Salmon Farms." Their aim is to stop the approval of the first salmon farm concessions in this area, one of the last big areas in Chilean Patagonia free of salmon farms. The Undersecretariat of Fisheries (Subpesca) has proposed a plan to approve five “experimental salmon breeding” concessions in the area of Tortel.
 
“The salmon farming industry has been pointing toward unrestrained growth disregarding communities and the environment. It is time to say enough and protect places like Tortel, which are still free from such polluting activities. We hope that everyone can join this campaign for a Tortel free from salmon farms”, stated Alex Muñoz, Vice President for Oceana in Chile.
 
On the website www.tortellibredesalmoneras.cl, the organizations are making a public call to send letters to the Undersecretary of Fisheries, Raúl Súnico, requesting him to withdraw the proposal to set up salmon breeding and growing farms in the fiords of Tortel. Similarly, a further request is made to remove salmon farming as one of the approved uses in areas suitable for aquaculture (AAA) located in this zone and finally, to support the proposal for the establishment of a Multiple Use Marine and Coastal Protected Area in Tortel, submitted by the Municipality of Tortel and Oceana in 2009, thereby promoting the development of sustainable activities such as tourism and artisanal fishing.
 
Concerned over the impacts of salmon farming on the Chilean Patagonia, this campaign is being promoted by Oceana and local organizations such as Asociación de Turismo Glaciares del Sur, Los Chonkes and Patagonia Austral, and regional groups including the Coyhaique Chamber of Tourism, Codeff Aysén, Agrupación Aysén Reserva de Vida, Coalición Aysén Reserva de Vida, Costa Carrera and Codesa. These organizations have noted that installing salmon farms in Tortel will have devastating and permanent impacts due to this industry’s effects on the environment which impairs sustainable activities such as tourism and artisanal fishing.
 
“We have witnessed how salmon farms have destroyed other regions in the Patagonia and we don’t want that for Tortel. Here, we have adopted a lifestyle based on sustainable activities –such as tourism– and what we need is support to keep on that track, not the promotion of industries that are totally incompatible with our identity, like salmon farming” said María Paz Hargreaves, President of Asociación de Turismo Glaciares del Sur.