Further mass mortalities

Blumar and Marine Harvest are the latest companies to report extensive mortalities caused by Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) in Chile. 

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Just like in the previous week - when blooms of Chattonella marina hit three farms belonging to Camanchaca - last week the same algae variety affected one site of Blumar in the exact same area, neighborhood 2, near Puerto Montt.

Gerardo Balbontín, general manager of Salmones Blumar, explained that the farming site “Caicura” faced HABs in late February, which started producing losses on February 24th and triggered the company’s contingency and mitigation plans for such situations.

This farm held approximately 1.2 million fish with an average weight of 1.6kg, whose book value as of January 31st is of US$ 7.5 million. Preliminary estimates indicate that fish mortality would be of approximately 110,000 fish, the company informed to the Chilean Securities and Insurance Supervisor (SVS).

Meanwhile Marine Harvest has revealed in a press release that they have also suffered from a severe algae bloom in Region X, which affected three sites – Punta Redonda, Huar Sur and Huar Norte – containing 2.9 million fish in the 1.5-2.5 kg range. Approximately 1.2 million fish have died to date.

According to the Chilean Weather Service, the average temperature in the Puerto Montt area during February 2016 (14.5 °C) was 1°C higher that in the same month of the previous two years (13.5°C).

Blumar said that the current weather conditions provide fertile ground for HABs, so the company will remain alert to the evolution of this natural phenomenon.

Both companies are insured against the blooms.

Sernapesca activates contingency protocols

The deputy national director of Sernapesca, Germán Iglesias, reported that since last week there has been massive presence of algae in the neighborhood 2, causing increased mortalities. “The summer weather conditions in progress have led to massive algae blooms, first in the north of Aysén and Central Chiloe, and now in the area of Puerto Montt (neighborhood 2), causing mortalities due to low oxygen and mechanical gill damage."

According to information collected by Sernapesca, there have been 19 affected farms, belonging to Aquachile, Blumar, Camanchaca, Salmones Austral, Marine Harvest Chile, Australis Mar, Salmones Humboldt and GMT Marine Farm, with losses close to 12,700 tonnes, some of them opting for early harvests.

Iglesias added: "Sernapesca has activated its contingency protocols to facilitate authorizations for the movement of fish, whether as a result of mortalities, or after having decided early harvests, therefore protecting the biosafety conditions set out in the regulations through inspections and monitoring operations if the affected farms."