Chilean fishing chief slams industry record on diver safety

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“When divers die, their families are left completely defenseless.”

The leader of the Chilean National Confederation of Artisanal Fishermen’s Federations  (CONFEPACH), Marcelo Soto Castillo, has condemned the Chilean salmon industry’s record on diver safety.

“In 2021,” Castillo said, “41 accidents were recorded and reported in diving tasks, this figure underestimates what really happens. The vast majority of these events are associated with the salmon industry. In 2022, we have unfortunately already registered the first death and his family is left in absolute economic and social vulnerability.”

Read more: Two more dead in less than 48 hours

“Diving is known to be a high-risk activity, humans immersed in a foreign and complex environment become vulnerable to multiple risk factors, both physical and physiological (cold, current, turbidity, the physical and psychological state of the diver).”

“To these we must add totally avoidable situations that are the responsibility of contractors such as subcontractors, quality of materials, lack of backup divers, long hours of work, in short, there is little concern for seafarers who risk their lives every day.”

“As seafarers, and being salmon divers, our colleagues or parents and children of our fishermen, we demand that the relevant authorities legislate quickly to protect the lives of people who dive at salmon farms. Monitoring, punishing and promoting humane treatment of these workers is an ethical and moral duty of those who hold public positions related to work at sea,” Castillo concluded.

Read more: The butcher’s bill: death a month average for Chile’s Wild West-style aquaculture industry