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Legislators of the province of Tierra del Fuego have just made salmon farming in marine cages illegal. The move makes Argentina the first country in the world to introduce such a ban. It came after months of campaigning from residents, neighbouring Chilean communities and NGOs who were concerned about the environmental destruction of the industry.
Last week, the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego banned salmon farming. The bill was approved unanimously by legislators, and the decision makes Argentina the first country in the world to ban the industry.
‘Saying no to salmon farms is possible’
There had been widespread concerns over the environmentally destructive salmon farming industry from the public and nonprofit organisations. Back in 2019, Tierra del Fuego signed an agreement with Norway to begin producing salmon in marine cages. The region is located in the most southern part of Argentina, where its cold-water environment makes salmon farming viable.
The message is clear: Saying no to salmon farms is possible.Pablo Villegas, Provincial Legislator of Tierra del Fuego
The salmon farming agreement was opposed by local and neighbouring Chilean residents. They partnered with NGOs like Rewilding Argentina to call for greater conservation of their biodiverse waters. Together, their efforts led to the decision to pause the project. Later on, provincial legislators went further to present a bill to ban the salmon industry by law. It was put forward by Pablo Villegas and Vice Governor Mónica Urquiza.
“The message is clear: if we work with our head and heart…that translates into achievements,” commented Villegas. “Saying no to salmon farms is possible.”
Environmental destruction from salmon farming
Salmon farming is associated with a litany of environmental harms, from destroying local fauna to entangling marine animals. It also exacerbates toxic algae blooms that are often known as “red tide”. There are health concerns too, with these farms being hotbeds of bacterial resistance, rising aquaculture diseases, and salmon mortalities.
According to a Just Economics report, the salmon farming industry is responsible for “negative externalities” that topped US$47 billion between 2013 to 2019.
Fighting for ocean protection around the world
Activists campaigning for the ban say that Argentina is leading by example to the rest of the world. Most importantly, the decision could put greater pressure on Chile to take similar measures. As unsustainable demand for seafood grows, salmon farming is rising in the biodiverse Chilean regions of Los Lagos and Magallanes.
Representative of the Yagán community David Alday believes that banning salmon farming will be crucial to protecting the region’s wildlife and environment. The Yagán community are the original inhabitants of this southernmost region of the world. After the approval of the bill, he said he sees a future where an “abundant archipelago full of different species” can thrive.
“Here, we are not fighting for a community but the positive effects of these decisions on a global level,” said Alday.
This is a watershed victory in Argentina which will make waves around the world.Don Staniford, Global Coordinator, Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture
Don Staniford, head of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture, agreed. In a statement, he said: “I have been fighting the global salmon farming industry for over two decades and the tide is now turning against this toxic industry.”
“This is a watershed victory in Argentina which will make waves around the world,” Staniford continued. “A global ban on open net cage salmon farming can help safeguard the health of our global ocean and the health of our children for generations to come.”
All images courtesy of Rewilding Argentina.