A salmon farm in Chile.

Lower mortality and higher productivity for Chilean salmon industry last year

Aquabench statistics show improves in world's second-largest producer of salmonids


A 9.7% cumulative mortality was recorded by Atlantic salmon in closed groups in Chile in 2023, 28% lower than that recorded in the previous year, when 13.4% of fish died in the marine phase, industry data provider Aquabench states in its February newsletter.

In the case of rainbow trout, a lower accumulated mortality of 7.2% was recorded in 2023 compared to 2022, when there was mortality of 9.9%.

As of December 2023, farmed coho salmon had a cumulative mortality of 6.8%.

Mechanical damage

For all three species together, 25.3 million fish died during in the marine stage: approximately 18.1 million Atlantic salmon, 5.6 million coho, and 1.5 million rainbow trout.

More than a quarter (26%) of total mortality corresponded to mechanical damage and 25% to infectious causes, with the biggest killers being salmon rickettsial septicaemia (SRS) with 33% and Tenacibaculum (29%).

Total biomass harvested in 2023 for the three salmonid species reached 1,113,412 tons (whole fish equivalent), a figure 4% higher than the previous year and the highest recorded historically.

Bigger harvests

By species, the annual harvest volumes (WFE) for Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and coho salmon totalled 772,361, 48,077 and 292,974 tons, respectively.

“These figures represent a higher harvest for the period of 48,612 tons for coho salmon and 13,227 tons for Atlantic salmon and a lower harvest of 18,086 tons in the case of trout. The average harvest weight for Atlantic salmon was 5.1 kilos, coho salmon 4.1 kilos and rainbow trout 3.4 kilos,” states the Aquabench newsletter.

On the other hand, the number of smolts stocked in pens 2023 decreased by 2% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 256.6 million smolts entered versus 261.0 million registered during 2022 for the three species.

Fewer smolts

Broken down by species, the numbers reflect a 14% decrease in rainbow trout, a 10% increase in coho salmon (as a season), and a 2% decrease in Atlantic salmon. The entry weight of the smolts for on-growing in 2023 increased compared to the previous year in Atlantic salmon to 179 g (7% increase) and coho salmon to 293 g (22% increase).

Productivity in 2023 improved by 4% and 12% for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout respectively but decreased by 3% for coho salmon.

“The low mortality impacted the improvement in the productivity of Atlantic salmon, which reached 4.53 kilos harvested per smolt brought in (closing year 2023), a figure 4% higher than that recorded in 2022. In the case of rainbow trout an increase in productivity of 12% was also observed, reaching 3.08 kilos harvested per smolt,” the report concluded.