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Salmon farming centre. (Photo: Marine Harvest Chile)

Salmon escape could cost USD 14 million to Marine Harvest

Click on the flag for more information about Chile CHILE
Thursday, July 12, 2018, 23:20 (GMT + 9)

The Norwegian Marine Harvest in Chile is in a complex scenario. And it is that the salmon escape that affected the cages of its centre located on Huar Island due to a severe storm could not only mean significant fines due to the health risk, but also, it would mean a minor blow to its finances, reports Diario Financiero.

In total, of the more than 900,000 salmon stocked in the centre, around 500,000 did not manage to be moved. According to the calculation of experts, this biomass would be valued at up to USD 7 million.

"There is also the measurement of what they stopped earning. Because if that fish is harvested and sold, the cost is much higher (...) so it could be up to USD 14 million, it is important for the company," says an industry expert.

In any case, the company has managed to recover 250,000 fish. Even so, the scenario remains complex, since this figure represents up to ten times the losses from these events recorded last year at the company level.

"In 2017 there were 15 leak incidents with 23,223 fish escapes in 2017, compared to 11 incidents with 12,790 escapes in 2016," the company says in its annual report worldwide.

The incident is positioned as the first escape of the year registered by SERNAPESCA and far exceeds the 165,000 escapes noted by the entire industry during the past year.

Race against time
The times of the company to recover the biomass are bounded. According to SERNAPESCA Aquaculture Deputy Director Ruth Alarcón the company must recover at least 10 per cent of the biomass so that environmental damage is not caused.

For this, the company has 30 days that could be extended as long as the company has the necessary foundations. A route that the company is already processing.

"The escapes of fish are regulated by the environmental regulation of aquaculture, the RAMA, therefore, it is clearly established what should be done in these escapes," he explains.

Within the next few days, the company must present SERNAPESCA a report on its progress, in parallel with an investigation that will determine the responsibilities of the event. If this is proven, it risks fines of between 500 and 3,000 UTM, which must be resolved by the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA).

In order to accelerate the process, the company hired the services of artisanal fishermen, thanks to which it reported that "it has been able to recover more than 20,000 fish (...) we appreciate the collaboration that has been offered to us from various locations such as Calbuco, Isla Huar and Port".

The SMA informed that it notified Marine Harvest to request more information on "the escape of fish, detachment of crop structures, contingency plan for monitoring the drugs administered to salmon and actions for the protection of native flora and fauna".

To answer, the company will have a plan of ten working days.

Source:  Rodrigo Olivares / Diario Financiero

Related article:

Marine Harvest tries to recapture some 900,000 escaped salmon not fit for consumption

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Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  Marine Harvest Chile S.A.
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