A hugely important decision for Chilean fish farming will now be made a week on Friday.

Decision about indigenous bids for Chilean salmon waters postponed

Crunch meeting delayed for a week


A meeting to decide whether the control of thousands of hectares of coastal waters should be handed to small groups of indigenous people in a Chilean salmon farming zone has been postponed by a week.

Members of Los Lagos Regional Coastal Edge Use Commission were due to decide on the requests for Coastal Marine Spaces for Native Peoples (Espacios Costeros Marítimos de Pueblos Originarios, or ECMPOs) this Friday, May 31.

That decision has now been delayed until June 7 to allow time for more background information to be made available to the Commission.

Relevant information

Regional Governor Patricio Vallespin said the delay is based “on the need to have all the appropriate, relevant background information, framed in the law, to be able to pronounce with full knowledge of all aspects of the issue”, given that it has been observed “by listening to the press and multiple opinions of different actors, that there is a worrying lack of knowledge of the law”.

Salmon workers, artisanal fishermen, shore gatherers, shellfish farmers, indigenous communities opposed to the ECMPOs, truck drivers, and residents of Quellón – a salmon port city in the south of Chiloé Island – are due to take part in a protest march against the ECMPO requests in Puerto Montt on Friday.

Four ECMPOs – called Compu, Chanco, Borde Costero Muelle Conectividad and Isla Linauac – have been requested in the Quellón area, and another, called Linao, in Ancud in the north of Chiloé Island.

Lafkenche Law

The ECMPO requests are being made under the Lafkenche Law that grants limited resource access rights to all coastal indigenous communities, in designated portions of Chile’s coastal areas, for traditional uses including harvesting practices.

Non-indigenous coastal users, including salmon farmers, argue that the law is being wrongly applied and that the applications for vast tracts of sea go against the spirit of the legislation.

Earlier this month, Marcelo Lipka, vice president of the Multi-Union of Salmon Farming Workers, told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, that if ECMPO requests were granted, it would give indigenous communities the right to say “who works in their areas and who does not, thus that our activity is affected”.