Chilean fishermen file class action claim against Marine Harvest after salmon escape

Stian Olsen

Claiming EUR 3.2 million in compensation.

In July around 690,000 fish escaped from Marine Harvest’s Punta Redonda farm site in Chile. According to the Chilean fisheries directorate, Sernapesca, only 38,000 fish were recaptured after the escape. Chilean law states that at least ten percent of the fish must be captured within 30 days. This did not happen, even after the company was granted an extension of an extra 30 days, and expectations are that there will be severe reactions from the authorities. It was indicated in July that both fines and withdrawal of the license would be forthcoming.

A total of 257 fishermen have filed a civil lawsuit against the company following the escape, and claiming around EUR 3.2 million (2.6 million Chilean pesos) in compensation. The fishermen are demanding, amongst other requests, to know the exact details of what happened in connection with the escape, and what the consequences are and will be for the ecosystem.

As most of the fishermen do not belong to any organisation, the claims have been lodged as individual lawsuits. The fishermen are represented by the law firm Lagos y Compañía de Valparaíso as a class action, reported the Chilean newspaper El Llanquihue.

Marine Harvest has informed the newspaper that as yet they have not been notified of a possible law suit.