SANTIAGO – Fishermen on southern Chile’s Chiloe archipelago who had protested for three weeks against a red tide-triggered mandatory halt to their activities ended their road-blocking action after reaching a deal with the government.
The protest in Ancud, the biggest town on Chiloe – the main island of the archipelago – and port of entry for people and goods, ended on Thursday, Economy Minister Luis Felipe Cespedes said.
“I thank all the fishing industry leaders,” said Cespedes, who had served as the government’s delegate in the dispute in recent weeks.
The agreement reached with artisanal fishermen from Ancud, the last remaining focal point of protests, “means the demonstrations have come to an end,” Cespedes said, stressing that the priority now is to resume the provision of supplies and re-establish services.
Julio Cardenas, the spokesman for the Ancud fishermen, said for his part that the agreement would be put to a vote among the rank-and-file members, Cooperativa radio reported.
The end to the protests means the lifting of roadblocks cutting off the link between mainland Chile and the Chiloe archipelago, a region whose economy is dependent on fishing, salmon farming and tourism.
The government originally agreed to pay 100,000 pesos ($150) in compensation to fishermen affected by the red tide, but that amount was gradually raised to 750,000 pesos ($1,126), which, according to local media, is to be paid in four quotas starting this month.
The number of beneficiaries also was increased.
Artisanal fishermen on the archipelago protested for three weeks against a prohibition on fishing due to high concentrations of paralyzing toxins detected in local sea life.
Since 1972, 23 people have died in Chile from eating seafood contaminated with the red tide toxins.