Camanchaca escape total reaches 124,000 salmon

Published on
September 3, 2020

An estimated total of 124,309 fish weighing approximately 500 grams each escaped on 27 August from Chilean salmon farmer Camanchaca’s San José center in the Los Lagos region, according to Sernapesca, Chile’s national fisheries service.

Sernapesca said that from the day the event was reported, it has been actively monitoring the measures implemented by the company, including the use of underwater ROVs and the center's surveillance cameras, while also reviewing documentary records to determine the exact number of escaped fish.

The fisheries service “will evaluate all the evidence in the case to determine the possible responsibilities and legal actions as appropriate,” Sernapesca said.

The escape comes shortly after Chile’s Superintendency of the Environment, SMA, levied an historically high CLP 5.3 billion (USD 6.7 million, EUR 5.7 million) fine against Mowi Chile for what the watchdog said was “irreparable environmental damage” resulting from the escape of more than 690,000 Atlantic salmon from one of its farms in 2018.

The escape occurred during adverse weather conditions at Mowi’s Punta Redonda center. Sernapesca head Alicia Gallardo lauded the penalty as “an exemplary fine.”

In July this year, Camanchaca suffered another escape of 92,863 coho salmon from its Playa Maqui center, also in Los Lagos region. The company blamed unidentified parties for attacking three cages at the center, causing a mass escape.

Last month, Salmones Camanchaca reported 58.9 percent lower earnings in the first half of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019, hurt by the lowest salmon prices since 2015, brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Santiago, Chile-based company recorded a Q2 2020 net loss of USD 16.4 million (EUR 13.9 million), and its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization as a loss of USD 5.8 million (EUR 4.9 million). The hit was caused by lower demand, especially from the foodservice sector, resulting in salmon prices that were on average USD 1.89 (EUR 1.60) lower per kilogram, according to the company.

Photo courtesy of Sernapesca

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