Chile’s challenge: disposing 27,700 tons of algae and bloom dead salmon

[Chile] More than 27,733 tons, equivalent to 72% of the total salmon mortality caused by algae bloom, have been removed from the farms affected by this contingency, Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) informed. In a new report on the emergency affecting the salmon farming industry in the Chilean southern region of Los Lagos, Sernapesca pointed out that 38 farms have been affected by microalgae bloom in the Concession Groups (ACS) 1, 2, 3A, 6, 7, and 10B, with a total mortality amounting to 23.8 million fish, equivalent to more than 38,500 tons.

Sernapesca director José Miguel Burgos reported that the Chilean Navy authorized the dumping of 300 tons dead salmon at sea, 75 miles offshore
Sernapesca director José Miguel Burgos reported that the Chilean Navy authorized the dumping of 300 tons dead salmon at sea, 75 miles offshore

Alicia Gallardo, assistant director of Aquaculture, highlighted the logistical effort that has meant the removal of these mortality volumes, equivalent to 14 Olympic swimming pools full of salmon.

”125 boats have been used from offshore fishing firms (PAM), from artisanal vessels and well/boats (ships that are especially used to transport farmed fish) working with 24-hour shifts to prevent this contingency from causing an environmental or health emergency,” explained the official. The mortality withdrawal from farms has been sent to processing plants in the X, XI and VIII regions to the north of Chile.

”125 boats working with 24-hour shifts are being used to prevent this contingency from causing an environmental or health emergency”, said Alicia Gallardo
”125 boats working with 24-hour shifts are being used to prevent this contingency from causing an environmental or health emergency”, said Alicia Gallardo

In addition, as a preventive measure, Sernapesca is handling requests for the transfer of fish to other groups, within the framework of authorizations establishing exceptional measures that include all the macro-areas of Los Lagos Region.

For his part, Sernapesca national director, José Miguel Burgos, reported that the Navy authorized the dumping of 300 tons dead salmon at sea, in a safe area established by the Fisheries Under Secretariat.

The decision, an emergency measure for fish in advanced decomposition state, was agreed since it was not good to be processed as fishmeal. Likewise labor could be at risk because of hydrogen sulfide emissions and similarly dumping the fish in a landfill.

The seawater temperature during February 2016 has been higher than those recorded in previous years for the same period, at 2-4 °C on the surface.
The seawater temperature during February 2016 has been higher than those recorded in previous years for the same period, at 2-4 °C on the surface.

“This dumping will be performed 75 miles offshore, northwest 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,” explained Burgos.

With regard to the causes of this phenomenon, the head of the Aquaculture Division of the Under Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Eugenio Zamorano, explained: “The weather conditions this summer in Los Lagos Region have shown strong anticyclone predominance over what is normal associated with the El Niño phenomenon. This has caused a deficit to date of about 70% 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).

 

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