Chile disposes of disaster hit fish

MORE than 27,733 tonnes of salmon, some 72 per cent of the total mortality caused by algae bloom, have been removed from affected farms, according to Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca).
In a new report on the emergency hitting the salmon farming industry in the Chilean southern region of Los Lagos, Sernapesca pointed out that 38 farms have been affected by microalgae bloom, with a total mortality amounting to 23.8 million fish, or more than 38,500 tonnes – equivalent to 14 Olympic swimming pools full of salmon.
Alicia Gallardo, assistant director of aquaculture, said 125 boats have worked 24-hour shifts to prevent an environmental or health emergency.
The mortality withdrawal from farms has been sent to processing plants in the X, XI and VIII regions to the north of Chile.
Sernapesca national director José Miguel Burgos said the Navy authorised the dumping of 300 tonnes of dead salmon at sea, in a safe area established by the Fisheries Under-Secretariat.
‘This dumping will be performed 75 miles offshore, north-west of the island of Chiloe. This place meets the necessary technical guarantees as to depth and currents to avoid affecting fishing activities, sailing and environmental interest, as stipulated in the London Protocol that regulates waste dumping at sea at international level,’ he said.
With regard to the causes of this phenomenon, the head of the Aquaculture Division of the Under Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Eugenio Zamorano, said: ‘The weather conditions this summer in Los Lagos Region have shown strong anticyclone predominance over what is normally associated with the El Niño phenomenon.
‘This has caused a deficit to date of about 70 per cent in rainfall, high temperatures, few clouds and less intense winds, mostly associated with stable weather conditions.
‘Furthermore, seawater temperature during the month of February 2016 has been higher than those recorded in previous years for the same period, 2-4 °C on the surface.
‘While the temperature does not explain the presence of these blooms during this year, prolonged calm conditions and high sunstroke have taken place, key factors to start and maintain a harmful bloom.’
Sernapesca recalled that in 1988 a similar algal bloom occurred in Chile, during which significant mortalities were also recorded in farmed salmon. (FIS)