Tuesday, September 22, 2015

22/09/2015: Oceana wins landmark decision that grants access to antibiotics used by salmon farms in Chile

In a unanimous ruling, Santiago’s Court of Appeals upheld the illegality claim submitted by the marine conservation organisation, Oceana, and demanded disaggregated information at salmon company-level about the amounts and types of antibiotics used between 2009 and 2013, figures which were denied to the NGO by the Chilean Transparency Council last April.

“We are pleased to hear the reversal of an incorrect ruling by the Transparency Council. Clearly, this is public information as it allows people to make decisions on fundamental issues, such as health and the environment, in addition to making scrutiny on whether the Government is effectively controlling this industry or not”, stated Alex Muñoz, Vice President for Oceana in Chile.


In July 2014, Oceana resorted to the Transparency Council after 50 salmon farms refused to reveal the amount and type of antibiotics used by them, on the grounds that this would entail “a competitive and commercial risk.” The Transparency Council agreed with the salmon farms and declared that the National Fishery Service is not required to reveal disaggregated figures.

For the Court of Appeal, however, the required information lacks a commercial value and does not reveal industrial production operations; on the contrary, “it aims at ensuring that the bacteria resistance of antibiotics is not transferred to human beings, besides protecting the environment against their use.” In the decision, the Court adds that “the dissemination of these figures would result in benefits expected to lead to health controls that objectively protect the entire population.”

“We know that the salmon industry uses huge amounts of antibiotics, but we are under the impression that some farms use much more than others. Knowing which company performs better or worse helps us focus the actions required for a policy to reduce antimicrobials”, declared Alex Muñoz.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that overuse of antibiotics develops bacterial resistance among fish, which in turn can cause severe public health problems by leaving certain diseases that affect humans without treatment. This is compounded by the pollution caused by salmon farms with other chemicals –such as anti-parasitic treatments- that result in severe damage to marine ecosystems.

Both salmon farms and the Council for Transparency can resort to the Supreme Court to challenge this ruling.

Visit the Oceana site HERE.

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