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Argentinian province bans salmon farming due to environmental concerns

The legislators of Tierra del Fuego, province in the southernmost Argentina, close to Antarctica, unanimously approved a bill to ban salmon farming. The province’s new legislation makes Argentina the first country in the world to have banned salmon farming.

The ban applies to the intensive farming of salmon in provincial, marine and lake waters of the region. In 2018, the Argentinian government signed a deal with Norway to promote salmon farming in the Beagle Channel, in Tierra del Fuego. After protests from local communities, the ban was approved as a preventive measure, that means, to avoid the fishing industry from installing in Tierra del Fuego.

The law is motivated by the concerns about the environmental impact on the Beagle Channel, a natural site between Chile and Argentina, home of indigenous communities such as the Yagán people and rich wildlife.

After an assessment by the Buenos Aires University about the economic impacts of a ban, they also concluded that farming could negatively impact tourism in the region, an activity that is responsible for 17,000 jobs.

Giant banner exhibited in the Beagle Channel says "No to salmon farming", in Spanish

Aerial view of the Beagle Channel

Salmon farms can cause tremendous damage to the surrounding environment, as it has been evident in Chile, Argentina's neighboring country and the second largest producer of Salmon after Norway. Chilean waters have been impacted by huge amounts of waste from large-scale salmon farms in the form of feces and uneaten fish food.

Salmon farming in the neighbour Chile

Farmed fish are also susceptible to sea lice, fungus, worms, bacteria and other parasites, which affect native aquatic species when farmed individuals manage to escape into the wild. To combat the diseases, the fishing industry often uses antibiotics. This practice can lead to the contamination of water and soil with both antibiotics and resistant bacteria, but also directly infect the meat people consume.

It is a common misconception that fish farming is more sustainable than wild fishing. In fact, fish farming exacerbates the problem rather than solving it. Some farmed fish, for example Salmon, are carnivorous, and are fed by 460 to 1,100 billion wild caught fish each year. It is estimated that more than 800g of wild fish are needed to produce 1kg of salmon meat — and this number doesn’t even consider bycatch, marine animals accidentally captured during sea fishing.

Farming causes tremendous suffering to fish

Apart from environmental damage, salmon are destined to life-time suffering and brutal death.

An investigation conducted by Compassion in World Farming and released earlier this year by Sinergia Animal has revealed the shocking reality of salmon farms in Scotland, the third largest exporter of salmon. Salmon is a migratory species; they swim up to 2,000 miles migrating between fresh waters and the ocean. But in farms, these fish are confined in barren underwater cages, where they can only swim aimlessly in cramped conditions, and have to live like this for up to two years.

The footage also shows fish being literally eaten alive by parasites, with open wounds and chunks of flesh missing, and some individuals completely blind and suffering with deformations.

Many people might have a hard time empathizing with fish because they are less similar to humans than species like dogs, cats or pigs. But it has been scientifically proven that fish are sentient beings with impressive physical and cognitive skills, such as using tools to get food or remembering familiar faces of other fish and even humans.

The banning of Salmon farming in Tierra del Fuego is a step towards the right direction. People like you can play an active role in helping fish, by changing your food choices. Start leaving fish and other aquatic animals out of your dish today! Click here to download our free sea-inspired recipe e-book.


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