Over 32 Thousand Tons of Dead Salmon Already Removed in Chile Disaster

23 March 2016, at 12:00am

CHILE - Disposal efforts have been continuing in Chile after millions of farmed salmon died due to a harmful algal bloom in the region of Los Lagos.

More than 24 million salmon, equivalent to 38,300 tons, have been killed by the disaster.

The Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Raul Súnico and the National Director of Sernapesca, José Miguel Burgos, said that 83.8 per cent of the total biomass removed has already been extracted, equivalent to more than 32 thousand tons of salmon.

Mr Burgos explained that most of the dead fish were sent for the preparation of fishmeal, while another much smaller percentage was sent to landfill.

"And the third option is the final alternative, and as outlined in international law, applies only in an emergency situation and when no other options are available, so two thousand tons have been allocated at sea in an underwater pit more than three thousand meters deep, more than 130 kilometres from the coast."

The authority added that dumping at sea is monitored with personnel aboard the ships responsible for the task, and additional monitoring is done through the satellite positioning of each ship.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary of Fisheries announced that in the coming days the department will start a second stage of control with the use of a submarine for monitoring the status of the seabed and the water column below the affected areas.

"We are facing an environmental emergency, and have taken all measures to control the situation in Los Lagos region, where there has been a team on hand to bring dead salmon to fish meal plants, and bring the rest to a suitable place for natural degradation to occur," added Mr Súnico.

Asked about the impact that this emergency would have on sectoral employment, Mr Súnico explained that fish affected by the bloom of algae would be harvested only at the end of the year or early next, so the immediate effect could not be verified, but perhaps those temporary jobs that arise precisely at the time of harvest will be affected.

In addition, the Secretary said that while there will be a decline in output this year, simultaneously industry will benefit from the best prices for this product abroad.

"This crisis, coupled with a decrease in production of Norwegian industry has caused a soar in salmon prices in international markets.

"According to the latest numbers we have seen, is reaching 5.8 dollars/pound, compared with $4 before the crisis.

"Therefore, from a broader perspective, salmon companies will have a higher return on their product from this price increase, and we hope that also translates into to maintain the employment situation as stable as possible," he said.