Chilean authority investigate Nova Austral over alleged misreporting of salmon mortality numbers

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Sernapesca to investigate Norwegian-owned salmon farmer which operates in far southern Chile.

On Thursday, an investigative piece by the news site El Mostrador entitled “Salmon Leaks” alleged that Nova Austral’s area managers were given instructions are given to manipulate salmon mortality statistics presented to the auditing authority (SIFA).

The publication claimed that it had been leaked information over the course of an investigation.

National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service Sernapesca wrote in a statement that it would immediately conduct an investigation to determine the veracity of the complaint.

The salmon farmer –  which is chaired by Norwegian Yngve Myhre, a former Nofima board member (last chaired in 2017) who is also on the board of Andromeda and Benchmark Holdings – recently announced that it plans to move its 26 concessions from its site on a national park near the southern tip of Chilean Patagonia to the Magallanes region of Chile.

At the time, CEO Nicos Nicolaides told reporters that because it operates in the pristine waters of far southern Chile, its been able to raise salmon without the use of antibiotics since 2015.

Deputy Director of Aquaculture Marcela Lara said: “If this report is true, this conduct seriously threatens transparency in the health and environmental field, and as a Service, we will take all appropriate legal actions since these bad practices jeopardize the substantial steps that have been taken to move towards a sustainable aquaculture.”

A Nova Austral spokesperson emailed SalmonBusiness with the following statement.

“Preserving the environment in which we operate is a critical component of Nova Austral’s DNA and the basis of our sustainable farming practices. We are proud to follow the most rigorous international standards for salmon farming and abide by all environmental conventions. Based on an initial review of our internal control processes, we strongly disagree with the accusations published today. Nova Austral does not encourage a culture of deception. We will be conducting our own investigation and are fully committed to collaborating with the authorities to resolve this matter.”