The HAB Alexandrium Catenella uder the micrscope. Photo: Verónica Muñoz, Crean Aysén.

Chile HAB fish death toll rises to 3,250 tonnes

The amount of salmon lost to harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Chile has risen above 3,000 tonnes. Fisheries authority Sernapesca accounts for 2,450 tonnes of total fish losses due to HABs in the regions of Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes, but if the 800 tonnes that Invermar has not yet registered with the authority are added, the figure increases to 3,250 tonnes.

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Salmon farmers are on maximum alert for the HABs, and in the Aysén region the government decreed an emergency due to the plague of Alexandrium Catenella.

The mortalities known to the inspectors amount to 2,450 tonnes in 82 sites between Quellón and Magallanes - 68 sites in Aysén (1,066 tonnes), 11 in Los Lagos (33 tonnes), two sites in Quellón (1,040 tonnes) and one in Magallanes (311 tonnes).

Francisco Lepeley, manager of administration and finances of salmon farmer AquaChile, commented that "this event that has been seen in the last days in diverse areas of the regions of Los Lagos and Aysén has affected with mortality two of our centres, Mauchil and Punta Porvenir".

Losses within normal range

As of January 31, AquaChile recorded a total operation of 33 offshore sites with an approximate amount of 23 million fish for 42,000 tonnes, with a value of US$167 million. The mortality in the Mauchil and Punta Porvenir centres represents to date about 0.64% of the company's biomass, around 270 tonnes.

Multiexport, Australis and Salmones Antártica made it clear that their fish losses are within the normal range for this time and that a decrease in levels of algae such as Alexandrium Catenella has been detected. Cermaq pointed out that it has not had any new fish losses.

Friosur, Salmones Austral and Salmones Aysén emphasise that they have not suffered fish losses due to HABs. Blumar said that beyond losses of 335 tonnes known in January, there are no new similar events, for now. Los Fiordos was another company that accounted for deaths in the previous count.