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Montevideo, August 18th 2018 - 14:15 UTC

Chile investigates alleged case of blast-fishing close to a major Humboldt rookery

Saturday, May 18th 2013 - 00:56 UTC
Full article 5 comments
The picture from Sernapesca shows a beach covered in dead marine life The picture from Sernapesca shows a beach covered in dead marine life

The bodies of sea lions, cormorants and penguins were discovered on Sunday littering a seven mile stretch of beach in Punta de Choros, northern Chile, is the proximity of the Humboldt Penguin Nature Reserve. Fisheries officials and police are investigating since there are serious suspicions that the deaths were caused by local fishermen using explosives to increase catches.

Two days prior the Movement in Defence of the Environment (MODEMA) reported a group of ten fishing boats off the coastline of Punta de Choros, which apparently were sighted using explosives.

Sernapesca, Chile’s National Fishing Service, investigated the scene and determined that all the animals were killed by the same incident. Autopsies report animals with fractured skulls, missing rib cages and multiple abrasions.

Local authorities promptly called in the Investigative Police’s (PDI) Environmental Crime Brigade for further investigation. Microbiological and chemical analysis tests are currently being run to determine if blast fishing is the cause of death.

In Chile, blast fishing is illegal. Companies caught fishing in this manner face prison time and fines. The monetary amount depends on the damage to the ecosystem. However, causing the death of penguins during commercial activities is a offence which can end perpetrators in prison.

Officials from Sernapesca told The Santiago Times that the combined offences amount to a “serious crime.”

“This situation is quite complicated because of the crime scene’s location near the penguin reserve,” Cristián Felmer, an environmental expert, stated to the press. ”This is one of the most important environmental incidents we’ve had in recent memory.”

This isn’t the first environmental calamity at Punta de Choros. In April of last year, 350 Guayano cormorants washed up on the beach. The next month, Sernapesca reported the deaths of more than 80 sea lions.

In light of the most recent crime, the international marine conservation group Oceana is pushing to have Punta de Choros made a Marine and Coastal Protected Area (AMCP). The proposal would limit human activity along the more than 175-mile coastline to eco-friendly tourism.

”While there are two marine reserves in the area, this ecosystem is much larger and has little protection from threats such as those that apparently killed all these birds,” Alex Muñoz, executive director of Oceana, told the media.

Oceana filed a joint proposal with scientists from Universidad Católica and the Centre for Advanced Studies in Dry Areas (CEAZA) to make Punta de Choros a AMCP in 2010. The proposal came amid plans to build a thermoelectric power plant in the area. The highly controversial plan was scrapped after generating a wave of protests.

Punta de Choros is a small fishing village of 320 people. It is also home to the largest population of Humboldt penguins in the world. The site attracts thousands of tourists annually.

By Jordan Greene - The Santiago Times.

Top Comments

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  • Think

    The “Shilean Momio” way......

    How was it “Mr. The Chilean Perspective” spoke about damming Patagonian rivers the other day???

    Something about breaking some Eggs to make an Omelet.............

    I guess that to make a Curanto de pescado you have to break some sealions.

    May 18th, 2013 - 09:36 am 0
  • ManRod

    what does this have to do with “momio way”, a political expression to marginalize people from the extreme right? Criminals doing this, give a shit about political tendencies...

    If you even want to make a political issue out of this, lets go. What has done Cristinita to detox your Riachuelo that cruises through Buenos Aires? How many thousands of animals die there every day due to this sh*thole?
    Thats not even worth a headline in Argentina, because it is the normal situation over there...

    May 19th, 2013 - 07:16 pm 0
  • Think


    A ”Sensible Chilean Momio” is upset because one makes a political point with some dead sealions!

    The same ”Sensible Chilean Momio” that a few days ago wrote following…..:
    ”Dont let BRA and ARG continue fooling, bullying, abusing and humilliating you! In worst case, blow up the whole Thing up, if more than 95% of the electricity is being taken by Arg and Bra and they let you pay for it... let's see who would then really suffer”
    ”Let's see who would then really suffer……….…. The ”Sensible Chilean Momio” says….

    I say…: The hundred of thousand drowned Paraguayan, Uruguayan and Argentinean living downstream, for starters…….

    May 19th, 2013 - 09:20 pm 0
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