CHILE - Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in southern Chile have so far caused the deaths of millions of salmon.
HAB's are a natural phenomenon that happen each year, however this bloom has been very intense due to the effect of El Niño.
The Chilean Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Luis Felipe Céspedes, summoned an emergency meeting of the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture department (Sernapesca) to analyze the critical environmental situation caused by the HAB in the Los Lagos region (Region X), noting that it has killed over 24,000 tons of salmon so far.
The Minister Céspedes stressed: "As a government we made every effort to mitigate the effects of the bloom on salmon production, but we recognize that this is a complex situation caused by the effect of El Niño which has led to increased water temperatures in the area."
It is reported that there are nine companies affected in the Los Lagos region, which operate 20 farms located in the area of Reloncavi (ACS2), three in Calbuco (ACS3a) and one in Quellón (ACS7).
Marine Harvest reported that at its operations in Los Lagos, 2.7 million out of 2.9 million fish have so far died due to the algal bloom and the remaining 0.2 million fish are also expected to be lost.
The company did note however that all fish are covered by insurance.
The operations of AquaChile, Blumar, Camanchaca, Austral salmon, Southern Salmon, Australis Mar, Humboldt Salmon and Marine Farm have also been affected, with losses around 12,700 tons.
With the huge mortality levels and less product being available, salmon prices could see an increase.