Mar 9, 2016

Chile's salmon farms losing up to $800 million from algal bloom

Chile
by
Anthony Esposito
,
Reuters
Chilean workers process farmed salmon in a plant in Puerto Ibanez near the town of Aysen, in the Chilean Patagonia region, some 1660 km (1031 miles) south of Santiago. Photo: Reuters
Chilean workers process farmed salmon in a plant in Puerto Ibanez near the town of Aysen, in the Chilean Patagonia region, some 1660 km (1031 miles) south of Santiago. Photo: Reuters

There are so many dead fish, they could easily fill 14 olympic-size swimming pools, said Jose Miguel Burgos, the head of the government's Sernapesca fisheries body.

Unusually high ocean temperatures, due in large part to the El Niño weather phenomenon, have fueled the algal bloom that has affected 37 of the nearly 415 salmon farms operating in southern Chile. Most of the farms are in ocean enclosures or in estuaries.

"Temperatures are 2 to 4 degrees (Celsius) above average for this time of the year, there's a lot of sunlight, a lack of rain and very mild winds, all of which are conditions for the micro algae to appear," said Burgos.

El Niño leads to hotter sea temperatures in the west Pacific Ocean, which means more rain falls on South America and less in Australia and South East Asia