Something fishy in Chile as millions of salmon perish in algal blooms fed by unusually warm waters
More than 23 million salmon died in early 2016 in Chile due to an algal bloom caused by unseasonably warm ocean waters. Chile is the second largest exporter of salmon in the world, and the US imports one-third of Chile’s fish. Ocean waters off the Chilean coast, where most salmon farms are located, are 2 to 4°C warmer than normal this year, fostering ideal conditions for the algae to flourish.
The combination of El Niño weather patterns and global warming are likely behind the unusually warm ocean temperatures. Algal blooms are largely expected to get worse with climate change, leaving marine scientists concerned for the future of the fisheries and the seafood industry.
Chilean salmon insurance payouts highest in aquaculture history
Experts estimate a loss of 15 to 20 percent of Chile's total salmon production for the year due to the algal bloom crisis. By March, the economic impacts had already reached more than $800 million.
The salmon mortalities in Chile will ultimately result in insurance payouts of between $45 million and $50 million, making it "by far" the largest payout for a disaster in the history of aquaculture, according to Dagfinn Ulriksen, head of aquaculture for insurance brokerage giant Aon in Norway.