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Salmon Farming In Chile Impacts Fishermen, Environment

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Salmon Farming In Chile Impacts Fishermen, Environment

Latin America

Salmon Farming In Chile Impacts Fishermen, Environment

Salmon Farming In Chile Impacts Fishermen, Environment

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Chile now challenges Norway in salmon exports. Appetites abroad are fueling huge growth in the region, but pollution from immense salmon farms is harming coastal environments. And, a recent decree granted tens of thousands of acres of the sea to salmon farms, pushing out small artisanal fishermen.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Annie Murphy reports now on how the industry is rebounding in Chile and, in the process, transforming the country's coast.

ANNIE MURPHY: Cesar Barros, head of the salmon farming organization SalmonChile, says a comeback happened only because farms became better regulated and spread out.

CESAR BARROS: We have divided the sea into barrios, or neighborhoods, according to the more or less independent water systems.

MURPHY: Critics in Chile, many of them small fishermen, say it privatizes the sea. But economist Andres Gomez-Lobo says putting the ocean into private hands may the best way to make sure it's taken care of. It's the tragedy of the commons, he says.

ANDRES GOMEZ: The tragedy of commons is very simple. It says, when something belongs to everyone, no one takes care of it. It becomes degraded. And that affects all the fisheries in the world.

MURPHY: But neighborhoods granted to salmon farms aren't a few blocks or even just a few kilometers big. Cesar Barros.

BARROS: These are big, big, big, big.

MURPHY: Like, how big?

BARROS: Thousands of square kilometers.

MURPHY: Thousands of square kilometers?

BARROS: Well, it's a huge sea.

MURPHY: Unidentified Woman: (Spanish spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF EXERCISING)

MURPHY: Oridia Paredes has just come off her shift. Beneath the white hood of her uniform, Paredes looks like a space-age nun. She compares this job with what she did before, fishing off the family boat.

ORIDIA PAREDES: (Through translator) Each person has their job, and every month they're going to have money in their pocket. Before, you didn't know if things would go well or not.

MURPHY: She also says she misses the fresh air and being on the water. According to Paredes, she had little choice but to give up her work as a small fisherwoman.

PAREDES: (Through translator) Things started to change when the salmon farms moved in. Wild fishing diminished. And once farms started to work with salmon, all of a sudden there was no one who wanted to buy other kinds of fish.

MURPHY: Rocio Carrera has dark hair tied back with a scarf. She's cleaning a few big, slimy conger eels at the Altamar Fish Market, and her glass refrigerator case is empty.

ROCIO CARRERA: (Spanish spoken)

MURPHY: As for Oridia Paredes, the fisherwoman turned factory worker, she can't remember the last time she bought any kind of fish.

PAREDES: (Spanish spoken)

MURPHY: For NPR News, I'm Annie Murphy, in Chile.

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