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Salmon faming centre. (Photo: Sernapesca/Stock File/FIS)

'The judicial sanction is unfair', argues salmon entrepreneur

Click on the flag for more information about Chile CHILE
Thursday, October 11, 2012, 00:30 (GMT + 9)

The manager of Farming of Salmones Magallanes (formerly Acuimag SA), Oscar Garay Krogh, regretted the sentence of the Court of Appeals of Punta Arenas against the company for the mismanagement of mortality rates in a salmon farming centre. The salmon company was ordered to pay 450 UTM, equivalent to about CLP 16 million (USD 33,800).

Last year, the centre of the Magallanes Region was denounced by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) while being declared under the category of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) outbreak. At that time, the authority considered that this centre had performed "mismanagement of mortality rates."

But in a statement to Aqua, the entrepreneur regretted that "news had been partially released" given the fact that they did not have the opportunity to offer their version of what happened so as "to provide a full view of the situation."

"As a company and personally speaking, we have painfully accepted the sentence not because of the fine but due to the image projected and to the fact that the sanction is unfair," he continued.

"At the beginning of last year we were harvesting in a centre that was positive to an ISA strain, which was not the most virulent strain but it was different from HPR0, considered harmless," said Garay Krogh. "This centre had a higher mortality rate than usual and as a result of this situation the mortality disposal system of the centre (incinerator) was not sufficient to eliminate the fish daily and permission was requested to dump the surplus or to send it to the silage processing plant," he explained.

He also said that while health authorities prohibited the movement, Sernapesca authorized it. "Who did we have to respect?," he wondered. "If we moved it without the authorization from Health, we exposed ourselves to a fine from this entity, if we did not move it, we would be subjected to a fine from Sernapesca."

After explaining the situation to all the agencies involved, eventually the company was authorized "to move 20 bins to the plant for silage," a process that was carried out as soon as the permission was obtained, which was countersigned by a movement certificate from Sernapesca. "But still, the Service fined us for having bins collected at the centre," complained the executive from Salmones Magallanes.

Another problem occurred when the bins were sent to the processing plant while harvesting. "We sent the 20 bins with mortality, duly authorized and to take advantage of the freight, further three bins were sent with ice remains. As they we carried in the same vehicle, the regulators assumed that these three bins also carried mortality and, therefore, their movement was unauthorized," Krogh Garay reported to Aqua.

"This led to the second cause of offense, which was analyzed as a single one," the entrepreneur pointed out.

At trial the company was acquitted and it was determined that no offense had been committed. But lawyers for the local Sernapesca appealed to the Court of Appeals of Punta Arenas, which revoked the earlier ruling and condemned the company.

"But the main basis of its conviction is the 'presumption' that an offense was committed and that the company gave no evidence to rebut the presumption," Krogh stressed.

Although this is considered unfair, Salmones Magallanes manager said he found it "very positive that these issues are openly addressed, that sanctions are made public as well as the companies’ defense, if possible."

Related article:
- Court sanctions salmon firm for mortality rates mismanagement

By Analia Murias
[email protected]



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