For the first time in its history, Chile’s environment regulation agency revoked a salmon producer’s licenses for regulation violations.
The company is Norwegian-owned Nova Austral, which was charged two years ago for exceeding the maximum production levels allowed at three of its farms in the Alberto de Agostini de Magallanes National Park.
The company, based in Punta Arenas, Chile reportedly exceeded production caps by 15 percent to 25 percent.
The punishment was meted Wednesday, July 6, according to Chilean media, thus concluding two years of investigation by the agency, the Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente (SMA).
SMA found that the violation has led to environmental damage in the national park. Aside from revoking Nova Austral’s licenses, it also imposed a fine of US$935,858.
The SMA applied the sanction using criteria that are used to issue non-pecuniary sanctions, such as the magnitude of the damage caused to the environment in a protected area; the intentionality of the company, considering that planting, fattening and harvesting is a planned action and is within the total control of the company; the company’s prior offenses; and the economic benefit obtained as a result of the infringements, said local news reports.
The deputy superintendent of the SMA, Emanuel Ibarra, said Nova Austral is a repeat offender.
He said the agency “was forced to make a historic decision” to deliver a “clear signal.”
“It is not possible to generate these levels of overproduction that cause environmental damage in protected areas such as the Alberto de Agostini National Park. We are facing a persistent offender, who already has a series of serious procedures in the SMA,” he said.
He added that he hopes the company “can improve its environmental behavior” at its remaining farms.
Nova Austral can file an appeal.
Chile’s inspection agency says there are more complaints about non-compliance in salmon farms in the Magallanes region during the first half of 2022 compared to the whole of 2021.