Extraction of fish mortality in a farm affected by a HAB in the Aysén Region. Photo: Sernapesca.
Extraction of fish mortality in a farm affected by a HAB in the Aysén Region. Photo: Sernapesca.

Rules and logistics ‘hindering algal bloom response in Chile’

Regulatory restrictions and important logistical limitations are hampering Chilean salmon farmers in their efforts to effectively deal with high-intensity harmful algal blooms (HABs), a study has concluded.

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The study was commissioned by the Salmon Council, a trade body comprising the country’s biggest salmon producers, following the loss of 3,350 tonnes of fish due to an algal bloom in the Aysén region last month.

Blumar, Salmones Austral, Salmones Camanchaca, and AquaChile all lost fish due to the bloom of Pseudochattonella microalgae, and Mowi Chile was hit by a mass mortality event caused by low dissolved oxygen associated with the bloom.

Risk assessment

The study, conducted by Ceres BCA, an expert consulting company in contingency management and risk assessment, aimed to identify critical points and technical, logistical and regulatory risks in the extraction, transport and disposal processes of HAB mortalities under different scenarios of magnitude and intensity.

“The study will be released in the coming days and specifically, through a logistic model, it simulates the capabilities and response times of a typical farm during a HAB event, providing useful information to better deal with the problems and risks of HAB episodes,” the Salmon Council said in a press release.

Among the main conclusions of the study, it is stated that there are regulatory restrictions and important logistical limitations that prevent effectively dealing with high-intensity HABs.

More collaboration

“In addition, it is necessary to strengthen collaboration between companies and seek alternatives for the final disposal of mortalities. As for recommendations, a public-private work table is suggested, and more integration of communities in prevention measures,” states the study report.

The Salmon Council has already met with the organisations that regulate and oversee salmon farming, such as Subpesca and Sernapesca, and with trade bodies SalmonChile and the Magallanes Salmon Farmers’ Association, to present a preview of the study results.