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A reference image of a Lepidodinium Chlorophorum bloom. Photo: Minyvel Environment.
A reference image of a Lepidodinium Chlorophorum bloom. Photo: Minyvel Environment.

Chilean salmon farmer Salmones Camanchaca has estimated that the deaths of 162,000 fish due to reduced oxygen levels caused by ongoing algal blooms will have a financial impact of US $3.5 million (£2.5m).

The losses occurred at the company’s Nieves and Puerto Argentino farms in Reñihue fjord in Los Lagos region, Camanchaca said in a market announcement.

The algae bloom events became more severe on March 8, and as of March 15, resulted in a loss of 162,000 Atlantic salmon, which represents 1.4% of the company’s total fish in the water, and 2.9% of the total biomass. The fish had an average weight of 4kg.

Mitigation technology

“This occurred despite the fact that the affected centres have the latest mitigation technology in place for these risks, consisting of deep-water upwelling systems and oxygenation support,” said Camanchaca, which is listed on both the Chilean and Norwegian stock exchanges.

It added the mortality occurred specifically because of the Lepidodinium Chlorophorum microalgae bloom in the fjord, which has been present for several weeks.

“As soon as the incident was detected, Salmones Camanchaca activated the contingency plan to remove the lost biomass, which will be disposed in specialised plants, avoiding impacts on the surrounding environment,” said the company, which added that the estimated annual harvest volume will be impacted by a range of 500 to 1,000 tons, which is close to 1-1.5% of the total estimated harvest in 2021.