The President of the Chilean Salmon Industry Association A.G. (SalmonChile), Cesar Barros, rejected comments from several sectors including environmentalists, regarding alleged responsibilities of the industry in the missing persons as a result of the earthquake in Aysen, Saturday April 21st.
"We not only have a clear conscience, we believe that if the necessary measures hadn't been made based on our initiative, the industries would have suffered greater losses," said Barros. Environmentalists argue the salmon sector is responsible for the missing employees who were at work during the tsunami following the earthquake. "Some people can be so ignorant. In salmon farming as in the dairy industry, work does not cease on Saturdays or Sundays, because the fish don't stop eating on those days," remarked the President of SalmonChile. He pointed out also that only four of the seven missing were workers at the salmon facilities in the Aysen area. Regarding future environmental damages, Barros said it was likely, in the case of the salmon being left to starve to death in their cages. Therefore companies will carry out research in the next five days to assess the future of the industry in that area. "After those five days, the (Interior) minister along with leading authorities of the Ministry of Defence and the Fisheries Deputy Secretary, among others, will visit the area with us to launch the second stage of the harvest normalisation plant in order to basically remove the fish from the area, which takes considerable time" Barros is quoted by El Mercurio. Following the final analysis over the situation, a decision will be taken on which farms will continue functioning. "First of all, the cages have to be checked, fish fed even though they can last 10 to 15 days without feeding, and normalise the flow of raw material," he said. Concerning the possibility of moving the facilities, the official stated that it would depend on weather development and on Mother Nature. "For the moment, risk is high and evacuation is seriously being considered. But first and foremost we must check on the cages, the fish need to be fed." Minister of Interior, Belisario Velasco together with Maritime Deputy Secretary will determine how assessments and security measures for the workers will be carried out. "What the government intends to do is to take the necessary measures so that there will be no problems to later regret" emphasized Velasco after the meeting held with Barros and salmon entrepreneurs. According to the salmon industry losses suffered because of the earthquake and tsunami that followed are in the range of 100 million US dollars. (FIS/MP).-