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1,800 tonnes of mortalities made into fish meal and oil

A powerful suction unit used to raise salmon farm mortalities from boats and into lorries. Photo: Fiordo Austral.
A powerful suction unit used to raise salmon farm mortalities from boats and into lorries. Photo: Fiordo Austral.

More than 1,800 tonnes of farmed salmon killed by harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Chile have been converted into fish meal and fish oil by a rendering company in Los Lagos region.

The fish are among 5,282 tonnes of mortalities resulting from the HABs in Los Lagos and Aysén regions.

Of that total, 2,843 tonnes are from the affected sites in Los Lagos, which is equivalent to 11.8% of the active biomass in the affected Los Lagos farming concession areas.

The other 2,439 tonnes are from sites in Aysén, which corresponds to 1.9% of the active biomass in the area.  

81% of morts recovered

As of yesterday, 4,301 tonnes (81%) of the total mortality had been removed from sites - 1,983 tonnes in Los Lagos and 2,318 tonnes in Aysén.

Dead fish are being removed from farms in wellboats, barges with large bins on board, and high seas fishing vessels (pesqueros de alta mar or PAMs).

One of the companies at the centre of the operation is rendering company Fiordo Austral, which was formed by a merger of two companies in 2010 in response to mortalities caused by the appearance and spread of the infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) virus and employs 1,200 people distributed between seven sites.

Francisco Correa: Action plan.
Francisco Correa: Action plan.

Action plan

Operations and services manager Francisco Correa said: “Based on the experience acquired in complex scenarios - such as the ISA virus or the 2016 bloom – in 2020 Fiordo Austral developed the Programme for Mass Mortalities (PMM) to deal with this type of contingency, deploying an action plan specially designed to process these episodes of massive mortality with maximum efficiency and sustainability, thus minimising the complex risks of these scenarios.”

Correa told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, that the PMM had enabled the company to process 1,800 tonnes of mortality in recent days, a volume that has been reduced completely to fish meal and oil in the company’s Los Lagos plants, thus avoiding sending the mortalities to landfills.

15,000-tonne capacity

He added that the PMM covers the critical processes of land logistics, so that “today we have vessel unloading facilities that are capable of lifting adult salmon at high speed, which speeds up the process; we have invested in tanks that are capable of storing more than 15,000 tonnes”.

“In addition, our ensiling plant is the only one in the world that has a patent to produce a valuable by-product, which contributes to making our clients’ processes increasingly sustainable.”

24-hour deadline

Meanwhile, the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) has given salmon farmer Salmones Camanchaca 24 hours to remove dead fish from its Porcelana site in Los Lagos.

The Superintendent of the Environment, Cristóbal De La Maza, said: “Due to delays in the implementation of the contingency plan by Camanchaca, we have decided to establish a final deadline for the withdrawal of mortality.

“The owner has greatly delayed the removal of dead fish, so now has a period of 24 hours to carry out this measure. Failure to comply with the instructions of the SMA, is an offence typified in our organic law. We will watch to ensure that it is strictly enforced.”