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by GUSTAV-ERIK BLAALID, EDITOR gustav@fishfarmingxpert.com

 

A colleague of mine made me aware of a website called Publiceye where they have a competition where winners are rewarded/penalized with a place in the Hall of Shame. A place for companies that have a questionable reputation because of contaminant, social dumping, low awareness of climate change and sustainability, or they have been guilty of corruption. The site is operated by The Berne Declaration (BD) and Greenpeace. Their annual meetings where they award the prices for the Hall of Shame, ironically takes place at the same time as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Of the two categories, the first one are awarded by the “people” who can vote for their Hall of Shame candidate, and the second is awarded by a professional jury who vote for their candidate. At the moment Gazprom tops people’s Hall of Shame ballot for 2013. In fourth place we find Marine Harvest. The reasons for that are, according to Publiceye, to be found in the fact of the companys extensive use of chemicals to treat sea lice in fish farms they operate in Chile.

We think it’s great that there are forces focusing on environmental issues and that are committed to creating a better society. For those companies who are nominated to the Hall of Shame , we must admit that it’s only Marine Harvest we know in some details, not to mention the industry they operate within. We also dare assert that we know the conditions in Chile relatively well.

One of the more obvious differences between Marine Harvest and the other players operating in Chile is that Marine Harvest reports relatively open about what they are doing. In this case the number of lice treatment , and thus they also provide an indication of the extent of chemical use. Far from all the other players in the Chilean salmon industry is doing this. Maybe a point that the nomination committee in Hall of Shame should have brought with them when they first singled out a company engaged in salmon farming in Chile.

The fact that Marine Harvest uses legal chemicals in their fight against sea lice, is a point that is omitted in the Hall of Shame reasoning . Marine Harvest does not use something illegal, they report what they do, but the prize is that they end up in the Hall of Shame. In a world where injustice are more common than justice, one might not expect anything else, but from the professional environment industry we could expect more.

If any should be placed in the Hall of Shame for these reasons it should be the Chilean authorities who for decades has allowed the salmon industry to operate on their own terms. For this both the authority and the salmon industry in Chile had to pay through the ISA crisis in 2008 and the following years.

Since then the Chilean authorities have put a lot of effort in establishing new rules and to tighten up corporate practice. We believe they still have a long way to go before the situation can be said to be satisfactory, but in the meantime we believe its important to support companies like Marine Harvest for openness and willingness to improve.