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Chilean regulator toughens rules on sea lion interactions

Sea lions at a fish farm in Chile. File photo: Salmonexpert.
Sea lions at a fish farm in Chile. File photo: Salmonexpert.

Chilean salmon farmers will have to provide detailed plans for dealing with sea lions and install anti-predator nets under new rules governing the interaction between marine mammals and aquaculture.

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The measures, which follow work done by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Subpesca, mean salmon farmers will have to report any type of interaction that occurs to aquaculture inspectorate, Sernapesca.

Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, was told by Sernapesca that fish farmers will be obliged to install anti-predator nets outside the cage nets in order to avoid or minimise the entanglement of marine mammals such as sea lions in the cage nets and the escape of salmon through holes made by the predators.

Contingency plan

There must also be a contingency plan to deal with the interaction of marine mammals with the farm’s infrastructure.

The plan must describe in detail the actions to be developed and those responsible for applying them, and the plan must be approved by Sernapesca.

Work is being carried out to ensure salmon exports to the United States are not impacted by the provisions of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act, which could lead to the US banning fish imports from a jurisdiction if marine mammals are killed or hurt as a consequence of fish production.

“We are in the stage of reporting to the United States the different actions that we have been implementing so that the interaction between marine mammals and aquaculture does not affect natural populations,” said Sernapesca.

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