Marine Harvest responds to antibiotic fears over Chile salmon escape

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Marine Harvest have been criticised by GreenPeace for the use of an antibiotic used in their escaped fish.

On Saturday, July 7, 680,000 fish escaped from its Punta Redonda farm in southern Chile.  Over 250,000 of the fish have been rescued transferred to a nearby facility.

In a statement released to SalmonBusiness, Adrián Maldonado, Communications & CSR Manager for Marine Harvest Chile said:

“The medication used is Florfenicol, an antibiotic used exclusively for veterinary purposes, so it has a low potential risk of generating resistance in humans and of very rapid elimination of the fish organism. Of the 10 cages that made up the affected centre”.

He added that “1 of the cages never received antibiotics in their productive cycle, 6 of them were with the withdrawal period fulfilled, for which the traces of antibiotic fulfill all the standards of the most demanding international markets, which is what Marine Harvest uses as a reference.”

Adrián Maldonado concluded that the other three cages “had their last day of treatment on July 4th, so, after the time elapsed it can be inferred that these fish are below the residual limits required by the Health authorities in Chile.”

The company said that it was carrying out random samples taken at collection points for fish recaptured by fishermen with an official laboratory, which now a total around 40,000. They also said the last sample they did was found without detection of traces of antibiotics. They added that in previous cases, samples with traces have levels 50 times lower than what is required by the health authorities.

According to the Chilean news site Cambio 21 GreenPeace Chile Coordinator, Estefanía González, said:

“It seems that there is no real dimension of the damage that has been generated with this escape. In the United States, a leak of 200,000 salmon sealed the fate of salmon farming in Washington and here we have just heard a complaint filed by Sernapesca against the company. We are sure that the reaction of the authorities would be very different if more than 140 million mice walked the streets of Santiago and not under water in the Los Lagos Region,” Estefanía González criticised.