The marine phenomenon known as a red tide, an excessive proliferation of algae that causes an elevated concentration of toxins, has been affecting the work of fishermen on the southern Chilean island of Chiloé for some months now.
Many attribute the recent phenomenon to the overly present salmon industry, which was affected by an algal bloom that killed more than 24 million salmon, thousands of tonnes of which ended up in the sea. The director of Sernapesca (the National Fish and Aquaculture Service), José Miguel Burgos, said “most of the death toll was used to produce fish flour, while a small percentage was sent to landfill. And the third alternative, which is permitted under international law in emergency situations, and given the lack of other possibilities, are these two thousand tonnes that were disposed of in a marine trench more than three thousand metres deep, more than 130 kilometres from the coast.”
Meanwhile, the environment minister simply attributed the phenomenon to climate change.
Internet users started sound the alarm on social media after thousands of dead clams washed up on the coast of Cucao, Chiloé, on the night of April 25, 2016.
Local fishermen have been protesting since the May 3, 2016, accusing the government of failing to alleviate the economic losses they have suffered, arguing that the 100,000 Chilean pesos (approximately 150 USD) offered to each family by the regional mayor is not enough.
Bono de $100.000 para los pescadores de Chiloé? Por el tema de la marea roja! Chita con eso no alcanza! Fuerza a los tod@s ! ✨
— Pauli Godoy (@PAULIGODOYB) May 2, 2016
$100,000 payment for the fishermen of Chiloé? For the red tide! Damn that's not enough! Strength to them all!
CHILOÉ DE MADRUGADA. Así amanecieron las calles de la Isla.
REPUDIAN Y NO ACEPTAN BONO POR REPARACION. pic.twitter.com/cokyfFAXLH
— PIENSA.PRENSA (@PiensaPrensa) May 3, 2016
CHILOE IN THE EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING. This is what the island's streets looked like this morning.
CONDEMN THIS AND DON'T ACCEPT THE COMPENSATION PAYMENT.
No es la “marea roja” la que está matando Chiloé. Es la “marea neoliberal” de salmoneras, mineras, forestales, eólicas…#AguanteChiloé
— Políticas Públicas (@ceppdi) May 3, 2016
It's not the “red tide” that is killing Chiloé—it's the “neoliberal tide” of salmon companies, mining companies, forestry companies, wind companies… #StayStrongChiloé
Protesters have resorted to a road blockade, barricades, and burning tires. The fishermen are asking that the government and the salmon companies take responsibility for paying compensation.
— Radio Mejor País (@RadioMejorPais) May 3, 2016
Protests in Chiloé against the “Red Tide.” Community blames salmon companies and demands real assistance.
— soychiloé.cl (@soychiloe) May 3, 2016
Protests continue for measures against the Red Tide.
— Daniela Igor M (@igor_daniela) May 3, 2016
Our fishermen putting up a fight in Chiloé Island.
Some Twitter users pointed out that national media outlets have not informed the country about these issues.
— Lissette Marian (@LissetteMarian7) May 3, 2016
@SoledadOnetto why don't you show this in the news why have you abandoned Chiloe
Como la prensa centralista y del gobierno no cubre
La gente debe difundir la información
Aguante Chiloé y X Región pic.twitter.com/VXJ3LoMGve
— Raul Garcia (@R4dul) May 3, 2016
Since the mainstream and government media doesn't cover it
The people must disseminate the information
Stay strong Chiloé and X Region
A documentary titled “Against the Current” offers us more context about salmon farming and the social, environmental and economic problems it has caused in Chiloé, feauting testimonials that reconstruct the more than 30 years it has been operating in Chile.
Es un proceso parecido a un mall que construyeron ahora en Castro. Nadie se dio cuenta. No nos dimos cuenta hasta que vimos el mar sembrado.
It is a process similar to a mall that was built recently in Castro. Nobody realised. We didn't realise until we saw the sea was covered.