“They have made us invisible as an indigenous community”: Communities of Chiloé request citizen participation before the expansion of the salmon project

“We would like to know what the salmon company wants to do in our territory, because so far the benefit and participation we have is zero.” Ana Leviñanco (64), a native of the island of Caguach, one of about 45 islands in the Chiloé Archipelago, is concerned. And it is not the only one.

The company Salmones Antártica presented a project that consists of expanding the biomass of the Caguache Farming Center -located on that island-, from 3,600 to 6,600 tons per year, whose activity was approved by the environmental authority through Qualification Resolution No. 541/2012 .

“The objective of this project is to increase the authorized biomass production, which is currently 3,600 tons per year, to 6,600 tons per cycle, through a sustainable use of hydrobiological resources,” the company informed the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA)

On December 15, the two Huilliche communities of Caguach; Piedra Funda and Las Dalias, asked the Los Lagos SEA to hold citizen participation sessions in order to be considered when making decisions for this megaproject.

The company has requested an expansion of biomass through an Environmental Impact Statement (DEA), since, as indicated, its impact complies with current environmental regulations, that is, it would not generate negative externalities for the territory. Faced with this, the Defendamos Chiloé organization, the Sovereign Archipelago Movement and the Network of Social and Territorial Organizations and Assemblies of Los Lagos (ROSA) and the indigenous communities of Caguach have requested citizen participation in the construction and execution of the project.

“Citizen participation seems important to me, basically because we, those of us who live in this land, are the main affected by the different policies that are adopted or the different companies that want to come to these territories,” says Mariela Peranchiguay, a lawyer from the Caguach community. “For this reason, it is important that we, as inhabitants of the island, can know what the project is about as a whole and that we can have an informed opinion about it.”

According to the communities, the project, located in an area requested in 2018 through the Lafkenche Law as a Maritime Coastal Space for Indigenous Peoples (ECMPO), puts the health of the population at risk due to the quantity and quality of effluents, emissions or waste, generates significant adverse effects on the quantity and quality of renewable natural resources, produces a significant alteration of the life systems and customs of human groups, is located near populations, resources and priority sites for conservation, significantly alters the landscape value of the area, and alters monuments and sites with anthropological and historical value belonging to the cultural heritage.

Rosario Almonacid Gueicha, president of the Piedra Funda indigenous community, points out that “I would like to be at a participation table with the salmon company, especially to tell them about the damage they have done to us, the damage they have done all these years since They are here on the island: we have lost many marine resources, the issue of algae, a product of the chemicals they release, has also been lost. I hope this can change. I have never been friends with salmon farms because they have never invited me to participate in any conversation, they have made us invisible as an indigenous community even though they are in our sea and I hope that through citizen participation that can change so that it can to exist a territorial development as a whole ”.

"They have made us invisible as an indigenous community": Communities of Chiloé request citizen participation before the expansion of the salmon project

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