The 12-cage module was badly damaged during what the company called "very unusual weather conditions". Photo: Sernapesca.

Salmones Camanchaca fish death toll raised to 388,000

The number of fish killed when a 12-cage module at a Chilean salmon farm was crushed in flood conditions has been calculated at nearly 388,000 – four and a half times the original estimate of 85,000.

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Salmones Camanchaca said the extent of mortalities at its Islotes site in Chaitén became clear when it completed work on transferring surviving fish to an undamaged cage module and collecting morts.

“Mortality has turned out to be higher than initially anticipated and reported, since the assessment on the last cages showed a more unfavourable survival rate,” the company said in an update to the Oslo stock exchange.

“The labour and operational procedures were slowed down due to the complexity of the operation, bad weather conditions and the (Covid-19) pandemic.”

$2.9m hit

Camanchaca said it had recaptured 9,900 fish out of an estimated total of 38,316 that had escaped, a recovery rate of 25.8%.

The fish in the cage module had an average weight of 2.6 kg, and the incident will reduce the company’s 2020 Atlantic salmon harvests by close to 2,200 tonnes, approximately 4% of the estimated annual total.

The impact on results after taxes in the second quarter of 2020 will be close to US $2.9 million, corresponding to net losses from biomass loss, expenses in excess of insurance over-limits, and for assets damaged and not covered by insurance.