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Nova Austral farms in the cold far south of Chile. Photo: Nova Austral.
Nova Austral farms in the cold far south of Chile. Photo: Nova Austral.

Fish farm certification organisation the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has suspended permission for Chilean salmon farmer Nova Austral to use the ASC logo on its products.

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The move follows a decision by Chilean aquaculture regulator Sernapesca to initiate legal proceedings against Nova Austral as a result of the irregularities found during its investigation into the company, which as well as Nova Austral’s admission of “failures in mortality reports” detected by an internal inquiry.

The issue was first brought to light late last month by online newspaper El Mostrador (The Counter), which claimed that Nova Austral had massaged its figures to conceal mortalities.

‘Deceptive practices’

The ASC told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert, that because of the seriousness of the legal action by Sernapesca and Nova Austral’s admission, it had suspended the company’s licence to use the logo.

“This is consistent with previous actions taken in the face of similar circumstances of deceptive practices, which are not tolerated,” stated the ASC.

The loss of ASC branding is the latest of many repercussions of the mortality reporting issue.

Nico Nicolaides, left, has been replaced by Francisco Miranda, right.
Nico Nicolaides, left, has been replaced by Francisco Miranda, right.

Change at the top

In a statement yesterday, Nova Austral announced that general manager Nico Nicolaides “will no longer have a role in the company”. Former Cermaq Chile chief operating officer Francisco Miranda, who recently joined as operations manager, will lead all sales and operations. Nicolás Larco, former financial officer of Chile’s largest retailer, Cencosud, will join the company CFO, and the two men will assume responsibility for “executing on Nova Austral’s vision”.

The company has also suspended its membership of its local trade body, the Magallanes Salmon Growers’ Association.

The Association indicated that “we made a public and energetic rejection to any practice that transgresses the current regulation”.

It added: “Nova Austral was reported for serious acts, which are under investigation by the competent authorities. We advocate a fast and effective process. In line with the above, the company has informed us of the decision to suspend its participation and that of its executives in the union, with the aim of dedicating itself to clarifying their situation and not harming the work of the Magallanes Salmon Growers’ Association.”

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