Initiative for aquaculture royalty


Kate Casey

News gathered from Periódico de Acuicultura, April 2007 Improve the distribution of benefits generated by salmon farming - particularly in terms of worker salaries, strictly comply with national labour regulations, and improve environmental policy on both private and governmental levels are the main conclusions drawn from a comprehensive study carried out by the national Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission. The study clearly reveals that the salmon industry’s development over the past decade has produced remarkably strong changes in the demographics and traditional lifestyles within the southern region, and that the industry’s growth is projected to double within the next decade. The consequent changes are both positive and negative for the regional environment and local communities. The negative changes are concentrated primarily on the environment and the traditional culture of the local fishing communities, a subject that has been the driving force behind the royalty initiative lead by Senator Camilo Escalona and County Commissioner Fidel Espinoza. Their argument is that the salmon industry should be treated in the same was as the mining industry, in that it should pay a royalty for its earnings from the use of the country’s rivers, lakes and oceanfront. “The salmon industry generates million dollar earnings with a cost to the industry that is practically zero, and it should be charged a tax in accordance with its returns. For each concession (hectare) for salmon production granted by the State, the industry pays only US$140 annually, which equals a monthly cost less than US$12,” states Espinoza. With respect to occupational health and safety, the study’s results emphasize the need for a renovation of the laws and regulations regarding workers rights and antiunion practices. The treatment of the scuba diving trade within the salmon industry has been under scrutiny for a number of years due to its history of work related accidents, and the study’s results will make the final push towards classifying this work as a labour intensive, high risk occupation. This classification change will oblige employers to provide life insurance coverage for divers and for the salmon farming regions to make available more hyperbaric chambers.