A committee of independent scientists which was named to investigate the red tide phenomenon affecting the Los Lagos Region in the south of Chile, earlier this year, have concluded that salmon dumping in the sea was not an agent causing the phenomenon.
The group presented a progress report to the Chilean Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, pointing out that they reached the conclusion after a review process of various historical sources, sampling, climate and oceanographic analysis and by obtaining data gathered by an scientific expedition to Cape Horn.
Among other points, the report underlines that at the time the salmon dumping was performed (March 14 to 23 this year), there were already harmful algal blooms (HABs), better known as the red tide, at different points in the region of Los Lagos and Aysen.
The gathered evidence from climatic, meteorological, oceanographic and biological information analyzed by this committee, and obtained both from national and international public sources and from the survey makes it possible for us to conclude that salmon dumping performed at 75 nautical miles west off the coast of Chiloe has no direct relation with the HABs in the region, the committee reported in a statement delivered to the Ministry of Economy.
Committee spokeswoman Monica Vasquez said: Salmon dumping does not have a causal relation with the harmful algal blooms observed in the region. The climatic and oceanographic conditions were conducive to the development of these blooms, most commonly called red tide.
The committee was composed of Alejandro Buschmann (University of Lagos), Laura Farias (U. de Concepcion), Fabian Tapia (U. de Concepcion), Daniel Varela (University of Los Lagos) and Monica Vasquez (Catholic University).
In October the experts will submit a series of recommendations for Chile to better face such events. The situation earlier this year which left tens of coastal villages without the possibility of fishing because of the red tide, triggered strong and at times violent reactions from fishing families. Salmon farms which lost tens of thousands of produce to the toxic algae had to terminate much of their harvest, some of it out in the sea. Coastal fishermen were convinced that this only intensified the toxic algae situation and thus the protests.
After much discussions and some display of force the Chilean government reached an agreement with the coastal fishermen (up in arms) by granting them a subsidy for several months.