Salmones Austral finally cuts the ribbon at post-smolt facility
$35m RAS plant inaugurated after 16 months of operation
Chilean salmon farmer Salmones Austral has officially opened the country’s first recirculating aquaculture system post-smolt facility, 16 months after the plant began operation.
The Arrayanes facility, located in the Reloncaví Estuary area, Los Lagos, is now raising its seventh batch of post-smolts. Last Friday the company welcomed its own executives, along with regional and community authorities, collaborators, and neighbours from the Cochamó area, to officially inaugurate the plant.
Salmones Austral general manager Gastón Cortez told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, that although the production at the facility was already established, “today we mark a milestone in sharing these facilities with the community and what is it that together we create”.
Reduced time at sea
He added: “It is of great value to us that they know everything that has been created and invite them to be part of what is to come in the future.
“The stocks that we sent to grow on in the sea a year ago are currently being evaluated and the results indicate that we are on the path that will allow us to reduce the time spent in the sea, with the consequent benefit, both for the fish and to lessen the effects that environmental factors can have on volume.”
Salmones Austral board president Pedro Hurtado said the company had made a technological leap that was a great contribution to Chilean salmon farming.
“We had a deficit in fresh water, but with the Los Arrayanes fish farm, we are in pole position in the industry,” said Hurtado. “With these facilities we are going to change the way we produce, since we hope to have shorter cycles in the sea, which means that our salmon have fewer challenges in the sea.”
Located in the Llaguepe sector, Cochamó district, the Arrayanes facility cost US $35 million and recirculates 99.5% of water used.
At the post-smolt stage the fish are grown in 1,250 m³ high salinity tanks for two months, allowing them to become more robust before being transferred to marine sites. The fish can more quickly adapt to the marine environment, reducing the use of antibiotics and exposure to health risks, such as SRS (salmon rickettsial septicaemia) and to environmental risks such as harmful algal blooms.
Fish can be piped directly on to wellboats from the Arrayanes facility, reducing handling and stress, in addition to removing any land impact from transporting the smolts by truck.
The smolt plant draws its water from deep biosecure wells with different temperatures and salinities. This allows Salmones Austral to emulate the conditions found in the natural environment.
Salinity increases depending on the biological needs of the salmon at different life stages, which Salmones Austral says benefits development and animal welfare, since it reduces stress on fish and thereby strengthens their defences against disease.