A damaged salmon farm in Chile. Photo: Directmar.

More than 400,000 salmonids escaped in Chile last year

More than 410,150 fish escaped from Chilean salmon farms last year, almost five times as many as in 2019, when 85,697 salmon escaped, government aquaculture agency Sernapesca has revealed.

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The figures are contained in a report giving details of large fish escapes between 2010 and 2020, during which time 73 salmon escapes involving almost five million salmon occurred.

Forty of those escapes took place in Los Lagos region, 26 in Aysén, four in Los Ríos and three in Magallanes, resulting in 2.8m salmon escaping in Los Lagos region, 1.9m in Aysén, more than 132,000 in Los Ríos and about 61,000 in Magallanes.

There were eight large salmonid escapes in 2020, three more than in 2019. There were four escapes in Los Lagos region, three in Aysén and one in Magallanes.

Tighter regulation

Of the 410,150 salmon registered as having escaped last year, 358,042 were in Los Lagos region, 51,358 in Magallanes and 750 in Aysén.

Sernapesca reported that the main causes of the escapes included adverse weather conditions; poor maintenance of cage structures; problems associated with management (split-harvests); boat crash; robberies at farms and the action of predators.

A bill that is one step away from becoming law will tighten the regulation applied to large escapes of salmonids, with penalties equivalent to the harvest value of the fish present in the farm and the suspension of farming operations at the site for two production cycles.