Since the Chilean National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) alerted a week ago about a massive salmonid mortality event as a consequence of a harmful algal bloom (HAB) in the Reloncavi estuary, Los Lagos region, the number of dead fish has been increasing to 1500 tons. However, the Chilean authority has reported that these have all been removed. In addition, Sernapesca has also said that a drop in the concentration levels of the microalgae Thalassiosira pseudonana, the toxic algae that caused the disaster, has been recorded in the area.
The first Sernapesca report spoke of 486.4 tons of dead coho salmon and trout, later the figure rose to 1,140 tons and, finally, the latest data provided by the Chilean authority increased this amount to the aforementioned 1,500 tons. To date, 100% has been removed from the fish farms and transferred to processing plants for the production of fishmeal. The majority, 95%, was taken to plants in Los Lagos, and 5% to the Biobío region.
Similarly, as the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service of Chile updated information, the number of salmonid farms affected by the massive mortality event also increased. In its first two releases, Sernapesca spoke of two farms, which later became seven, but according to the last update, the contingency finally affected nine farms.
Although, once again, the Chilean authority didn't provide the names of the companies affected by mortality, it previously indicated that the two most impacted farms belong to Caleta Bay and Trusal (Salmones Austral). Subsequently, WeAreAquaculture was able to verify that farm 100503, which was reported to have the highest mortality, corresponds to a Trusal concession in the Salmonid Concessions Grouping (ACS) N°1. In this latest update, Sernapesca reported that 60% of the recorded mortality, 890 tons, was concentrated in a single concession in that area.
According to the National Director of Sernapesca, Soledad Tapia, this massive salmonid mortality has allowed them to put into practice the work plans they had prepared during the last 5 months with the technical bodies of the Interinstitutional Committees on Environmental Contingencies (CIICA) to comply with the deadlines and protocols established by current regulations. They have done so mainly with inspections, making sure that the logistics for removing the dead fish were carried out as planned.
"If we compare it with contingencies of previous years, coordination has been more efficient, given the compliance of plans, the movement of boats associated with the removal of mortalities and their treatment," National Director of Sernapesca said. "However, we must be cautious and continue to improve the procedure to be prepared for events of greater magnitude that may eventually occur," she warned.
Thus, although as mentioned, 100% of salmonid mortality in the Reloncavi estuary has been removed, Chile's National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service said that, in the framework of the aquaculture pre-alert published on November 8 and in addition to the possible consequences of El Niño on the Chilean coasts, the monitoring of possible harmful algal bloom events and massive mortalities in salmonid farming sites will be maintained.