Chile's Association of Salmon producers (SalmonChile) reported destruction of hatcheries and heavy losses in production in the industry which operates numerous freshwater facilities in the area directly affected by the eruption of the Calbuco volcano.
SalmonChile said that in the volcano danger zone there are 25 million fish (fry and smolts) out of 300 million, about 8.3% of the total production of Atlantic salmon and Coho Salmon currently in freshwater facilities.
In the area near the slopes of the volcano there are eleven salmon hatcheries. Four of them have suffered serious damage with significant loss of fish. The companies have been unable to assess losses in detail due to the difficulties of access to the affected area and because they have prioritized the evacuation of workers.
The National Fisheries Service (Sernapesca) activated the emergency protocol for the eruption of the volcano and has granted special provisions to authorize the transfer of fish to safer facilities, while meeting bio-security requirements. Five hatcheries in the area have sought authorization to make movements of fish. To date, about 11.5 million fish have been relocated.
Among the companies affected are Invermar Salmon, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Camanchaca Salmon. The fish in grow-out facilities at sea have not reported problems at the moment, due to the direction of the wind, which has directed the ash plume in a North-East direction, towards the Andes Mountain Range and to Argentina.
The losses in salmon production caused by the eruption could result in a decrease in the salmon supply and rising prices in world markets. Since the losses in freshwater facilities affect eggs in incubation, and fry currently weighing 3 to 10 grams, and the fish take about 18 months to reach harvest size, the impact on the production for export to international markets will be realized in the harvests scheduled for November 2016 to March 2017.
Chile is the second largest salmon producer in the world, after Norway. Chilean salmon go to more than 70 markets worldwide, and is the country’s second largest export product after copper.