“Flaws in the control of these violations” is key to all of Solvtrans Chile’s woes, says lawyer.
Last week, SalmonBusiness was tipped off about the fate of Solvtrans Chile’s operations with the potential docking of the wellboats “Ronia Austral” and “Ronia Pacific”. An emotional letter from union representatives made for a sobering read with skippers talking of not being able to feed their families. The livelihoods of around dozens salmon workers aboard the fleet were are at risk, it said.
“We are in a cloud of uncertainties,” said the Solvtrans Chile representative and captain Patricio Saavedra.
The finger was firmly pointed at Armasur (Association of Southern Ship-owners) – controlled by a rival wellboat company. Naviera Orca had – along with others – filed a complaint to Directemar, citing violations of the Navigation Law.
But in an interview with Aqua.cl, Álvaro Jana Linetzky a lawyer representing Armasur, explained the Navigation Law in more detail. He said that the main issue was that in 2012, Solvtrans Chile did not comply with a law that they must be at least 50 per cent Chilean owned and that because of this they could not transfer loads of third parties but their own cargo.
According to Linetzky Naviera Orca has Norwegian capital (it is partly owned by Rostein owner Odd Einar Sandøy), but falls under the requirements needed to operate within Chilean law.
Unfair competition or illegitimate commercial activity
Linetzky explained that fish carrier members of Armasur took issue with what they saw as “flaws in the control of these violations” after Solvtrans Chile carried on operating for years flouting laws set by Directemar – Chile’s top maritime territory.
“Taking into consideration that, we can see flaws in the control of these violations and also in the timely sanction of them, and it was not until some companies that did comply with the requirements of the Law of Navigation saw this unfair competition or illegitimate commercial activity, and made their position appear before the Directemar asking that the sanctions of the case be applied, is that the authority took action in the matter,” said Linetzky.
Currently, an investigation is ongoing around the contract surrounding the ownership of Solvtrans Chile company. However, Víctor Vargas, general manager of Solvtrans Chile told SalmonBusiness on Tuesday that “this is a competition issue”. In July 2018, a court in Chile accepted a preliminary ruling filed by the company to ask Armasur to reveal if it has been working with wellboat companies in the south of the country to prevent free competition.
So can the wellboats be docked? Perhaps, it seems to Linetzky.
“While as a guild, we still have not decided what guidelines we will take in that case, but what we can say is that we will be expectant to what Solvtrans does, to respond by demonstrating that it has broken the law. To close, we want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with Solvtrans, nor with Gripship, nor with nationality, nor with anything similar, it is only to seek that all comply with the law,” he said to the publication.
SalmonBusiness has contacted Víctor Vargas, and he said that he will come back with Sølvtrans’ point of view in this case.