“Some of the environmental damage was irreparable”: Marine Harvest charged over salmon escape

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Salmon farmer charged of environmental breaches over July’s mass salmom escape.

Chile’s environmental regulator on Wednesday charged the local unit of Norway’s Marine Harvest with breaching the terms of its permits following the escape of hundreds of thousands of salmon from a facility in southern Chile in July according to Reuters.

“Irreparable”
The Superintendency of Environment (SMA) is an organization of Chilean State, under supervision of the Ministry of Environment, said that Marine Harvest had failed to properly maintain its infrastructure along the country’s coastline, allowing the fish to escape out to sea. “Some of the environmental damage was irreparable,” the regulator said.

“[Marine Harvest] risks the revocation of its environmental approvals, closure, or a fine,” the SMA said in a statement.

Reviewing the charges
A spokesman for Marine Harvest told Reuters that the company was reviewing the charges. “At this stage, it is too early to speculate on future consequences of the charges,” said Ola Helge Hjetland in an email to the news organisation.

The company now has up to 15 days to contest the charges, or to file a plan to bring its operations back into compliance, the SMA said.

On July the 7th, a storm wreaked havoc on fish farm in Chile, located at Isla Huar, just out from the salmon capital Puerto Montt. High waves and gale force winds pummelled the production site, causing major damage, releasing 680,000 fish in the wild.

Only around 38,000 of the fish, or 5.5 percent, were recaptured, the SMA added.

Loss of EUR 3 million
As a result of the above, authorities have now found the company in breach of two serious infractions breaches of the environmental regulations.

The company’s latest Q3 report revealed that losses associated with the escape amounted to EUR 3 million, however Marine Harvest Group reported record high Q3 operational revenues of EUR 990 million.

The company added that it “has a target of zero fish escapes and is constantly thriving to prevent escapes and improve methods, equipment and procedures that minimise and elimiate them.”