Algal disaster to lead to layoffs

Salmonchile expects job losses due to the harmful algal blooms (HABs) affecting the northern part of Los Lagos, where officials estimate that around 90,000 tonnes of fish have already died.

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Three neighborhoods are currently impacted by HABs in the country - in areas near Puerto Montt, Calbuco and Queilen - which contain sites holding around 20 million Atlantic salmon, equivalent to 85,000 tonnes if harvested at commercial size, according to the Association of the Chilean Salmon Industry –Salmonchile.

The blooms are also likely to affect 2 million coho salmon, equivalent to 4,500 tonnes if harvested at commercial size. Most of these fish would have been harvested in the second half of the year.

The reduction in harvests will lead to job layoffs, warns Salmonchile, although the full extent of this will not be known for a while, according to the association.

The morts will be transformed in fishmeal and fish oil. Losses grow every day and, unless weather conditions significantly change, problems are expected to continue.