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Chilean Fisherpeople Fight Salmon Introduction
an article by Len Yannielli

In January 2002, the local community of Puerto Williams, Isla Navarino, Chile, along with the participation of the international research organization, EarthWatch, which I was a part, helped prevent a salmon introduction proposal for the Omora Ethnobotanical Park on the Island. The people of the island, at the far southern end of the world, are working hard to preserve its biological and cultural diversity. One of the biggest threats to its biological and cultural diversity is . . salmon. As part of a science research team taking measurements of the forest there, I agreed to help.

Salmon are large predator fish. When introduced to rivers, they aggressively feed on the eggs and young of wild fish. This can be especially harmful on islands in that it can greatly reduce wild species to the point of extinction. Pesticides and colorants are used when salmon are farmed; which, in turn, are a threat to chemically allergic individuals. A further complication is that many families in rural Alaska, including Native American Indians, are going bankrupt as Chilean salmon flood U.S. markets.

The pressures on the environment are continous, however. On Tuesday, February 19th, 2002, I watched a sleek, white yacht cruise into the harbor at Puerto Williams. The Edwards, the richest family in Chile, were visiting this hard-to-reach island for vacation purposes and business. And that business is salmon. This family fled to New York during the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende (1970-'73). Supporters of Military Dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Edwards returned to Chile after Popular Unity was overthrown by Pinochet.

The union representing small fishermen, who harvest wild marine plants and animals, was disrupted during the dictatorship. Its 30,000 artisan fishermen have only regained legal status since 1990. Some have lost their markets to salmon farms. They are strongly opposing salmon introductions and the Free Trade of the Americas Act (FTAA) which would only speed up the environmental damage and loss of jobs.

A proposal to have the Cape Horn area included in the United Nations Biosphere Reserve program is under discussion. Those wishing to help can contact: or e-mail


Question(s) related to this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can't we agree to preserve the planet?

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I think the Internet is a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to the environment.  On the one hand it has aided in the raising of awareness of ecological issues, and many companies have had to green up their acts as a result of web-buzz.  

On the other hand the World Wide Web has enabled a great deal more commerce, often with little to no regard to the ecological ramifications of that commerce.  

I propose that we cease to think of the Internet as an entity that does things, and start thinking of it as a collective network devoted to moving ideas.  Then ask ourselves.  How do we implant ideas into this network in order to achieve our stated objective.  

Why not put out a catchy YouTube video about a web purchase you made and its ecological ramifications.  Why not highlight businesses that do their business in a clean and ethical manner. . ...more.

This report was posted on April 24, 2002.