Image by Liesbeth van der Meer, Oceana.

NGO backs antibiotics report

A new report issued by Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) on the use of antibiotics in salmon farms has been welcomed by the Marine conservation organization Oceana.

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The report reveals that, during 2015, companies used 557 tonnes of antibiotics, and includes more detailed figures from 22 of the 25 firms with marine farms. The three companies that refused to disclose information were Invermar, Ice Val and Salmones de Chile.

Despite backing the publication, Oceana has called for increased transparency in data disclosure about the amount and types of antibiotics used, by firm and farm, claiming that the details of the report “are insufficient to thoroughly analyze the actual operation of the industry”.

“Undoubtedly, the report recently issued by Sernapesca is a step forward. Comparing these 22 companies, we find that for every tonne of farmed salmon some use as much as 10 times more antibiotics than others. However, data are still missing to conduct a solid evaluation of this industry’s operation,” stated Liesbeth van der Meer, interim executive director of Oceana Chile.

The “Report on the Use of Antimicrobials in Salmon Farming in 2015” reveals a historical record of 660g of antibiotics was used for each tonne of produced biomass – twice the level of five years ago.

“We will follow-up closely the decisions by the Supreme Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court in the two information disclosure procedures we filed to access the complete and disaggregated figures of antibiotics used by firm and farm. Only then would we be able to adequately assess the operation of the salmon industry in Chile,” added van der Meer.

On May 31, the Court of Appeals of Santiago accepted Oceana’s claim and ordered Sernapesca to publish the information disaggregated by company – requested by Oceana in 2015 – about antibiotics used by the salmon industry in Chile in 2014.

The award of the Court of Appeals was made public after 37 companies, Sernapesca and the Council for Transparency, refused to reveal such information on the grounds of “competitive and business risk” for companies. In a wide-ranging resolution, the Court qualified the decision by the Council of Transparency as “illegal”, further stating that the information requested by Oceana severely compromises public interest, hence its disclosure should prevail over the interests of salmon farms.

In addition, Oceana is part of another process before the Constitutional Court concerning a constitutional unenforceability requirement filed by Multiexport and 22 salmon companies in order to prevent the publication of information on antibiotics used disaggregated by firm between years 2009 and 2013, which was requested by Oceana in 2014.