Sernapesca officials at Caleta Bay's San Antonio salmon farm, where an estimated 12,500 coho escaped after what the company says was sabotage of a net. Photo: Sernapesca.

Escaped salmon are being recaptured, says coho farmer

Efforts to recapture some of 12,500 coho salmon that escaped from a Chilean fish farm after a cage net was allegedly sabotaged are being carried out successfully together with the community and artisanal fishermen, fish farmer Caleta Bay has said.

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The fish, with an average weight of 3.9 kg, escaped from the company’s San Antonio farm, located in the Calbuco commune in Los Lagos region.

“The centre was finishing the harvesting work, so a significant percentage of cages were already empty,” said Caleta Bay’s sea water production manager, Marcos Roa, in a press release.

“This has allowed us to put the fish that have been recaptured in these cages, which significantly mitigates the impact on the environment.”

‘A precise cut’

Caleta Bay said the escape was a result of criminal damage, for which it has filed a complaint with the competent authorities.

“The damage to the facilities consists of a precise cut in the mesh, at a depth of 3 metres, with a dimension of 6 x 4 metres,” stated Caleta Bay.

“All protocols and security measures were activated, and at this time recapture tasks continue to be carried out successfully, in conjunction with the community and artisanal fishermen. Recovery work will continue over the next few days.”

Reporting delay

The company said that officials from state aquaculture agency Sernapesca had visited the site, where they verified the good condition of the structures and networks with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), leaving a record in the log.

Earlier this week, Sernapesca said it would file a complaint against Caleta Bay for not immediately reporting the escape, which occurred more than a week ago, or activating its escape contingency plan soon enough.

“By delaying this action, containment work is difficult and the risk of environmental damage increases, for which we will file the respective complaint,” said the agency.