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The Inertia

For six short months, I was fortunate to call the coast of central Chile home. To this day, the Andean nation that’s just over 200 miles wide at its broadest point but stretches over 2,600 miles from north to south occupies a special place in my heart. Its people have the broadest smiles I’ve ever seen and some of the wild corners I had the pleasure of exploring were absolutely breathtaking.

And yet, Chile is also a place of dichotomy. The threat of industry and development often looms large. During my time there, the words “Patagonia sin represas” (Patagonia without dams) –a common chant in protest of a dam project in Patagonia – was scrawled with spraypaint on walls as far north as the town of Arica. By 2014, the project was dead in the water.

Copper has long been Chile’s primary export – read also the 33 Chilean miners who were stranded in a mine for 69 days in 2010 – the environmental impact of which goes without saying. And salmon farming has quickly become Chile’s second-largest industry.

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For Chilean big wave surfer Ramón Navarro, the impact the industry is having on the marine environments off the Chilean coast is too much to bear. The mini-documentary above profiles the development of the salmon industry in Chile, the environmental catastrophe that occurred off the coast of the island of Chiloé back in 2016, and current efforts on the part of salmon farm companies to expand into new areas.

“With near-zero regulation and a wake of destruction behind them, the biggest [salmon farm] companies are looking south to the pristine district of Magallanes for expansion,” the video description explains. “Ramon Navarro exposes the industry, its negative effects, and traces the surprising origins of the industry and largest per-capita consumption of Chilean farmed salmon to the same country: Japan.”

American consumers are far from exculpated. We, too, consume Chilean farmed salmon at huge rates which is precisely why the film ends with the following message.

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“The salmon industry is contributing to the catastrophic decline of wild fish and destroying ecosystems around the world. Help us protect the last pristine places on our planet. Avoid eating farmed salmon and say NO to the continued expansion of the salmon industry to Tierra del Fuego and Magallanes in the south of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina.”

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