Tierra del Fuego lawmakers on Wednesday approved, unanimously the bill which bans salmon farming in the waters of the province. Sponsored by Pablo Villegas from the provincial party, Movimiento Popular Fueguino, the bill privileges the environment over such an industry, and according to its promoters places Argentina at the head of the green economy.
The passing of this bill is a clear and forceful institutional definition which underlines the importance for our community the protection and conservation of our natural resources, the genetic heritage of our living beings and its environment for a sustainable economic development, pointed out lawmaker Villegas.
In Argentina, the only viable place for such undertakings is the pristine waters of the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego. These waters besides concentrating 50% of the macroalgae forests that exist in the country are one of the big transformers of the planet CO2 and a biodiversity hotspot.
The approval was also cheered on the other side of the channel in Chile, where the industry, and its impact, have become a growing controversial issue. David Alday, from the indigenous Yagan community, described it as a tremendous milestone. We here managed to have the salmon farms out but achieved no salmon industry in Tierra del Fuego. This has a great impact on us it's a signal and strong support for our community and indigenous territory and the overall archipelago.
We want the world to know that from the most distant place in the world, people raised a milestone against such a destructive industry as salmon farming, underlined Javier Trivelli, a Renewable Natural Resources engineer from the NGO South Conservation People who also praised the neighbour's decision.
On the Chilean side, the echo marine region of channels and fiords, the salmon fattening centres operate on average at 40% anaerobic conditions, impairing the quality of waters and sediments, and consequently biodiversity. The Tierra del Fuego prohibition means having a biodiversity reservoir, which should help the Chilean seas impacted by this industry, although vulnerable marine ecosystems here in the south are of very slow recovery, completed Javier Trivelli, who also praised the neighbours' decision.
The controversial salmon industry in Chile was started in the seventies and since has conquered a great economic presence in the southern regions of Araucania and Magallanes, and even in the nature reserve of Kawesqar and the Alberto Agostini park, from where the indigenous communities have repeatedly asked they be removed.
However, Chile has become the world's second salmon farmer with exports of US$ 4,4 billion last year. This nevertheless has not impeded the recurrence of environmental disasters in the areas where salmon is caged and farmed. Plus the fact that Chilean farms are obliged to appeal to tons of antibiotics to contain repeated bouts of Infectious Salmon Anemia, ISA, and combating the ever-present lice.