Salmon escape from Cermaq facility in Southern Chile

Published on
January 2, 2020

Around 23,000 coho salmon escaped from a pen on 22 December at Cermaq Chile’s Caucahue facility, located in Quemchi in the south of the country, Sernapesca, Chile's the national fishing authority, reported at the close of the year.

Sernapesca authorities confirmed a hole in the cage and solicited a head count, ordering Cermaq to activate recapture measures. At the time of publication, just over 5,000 units had been recovered.

Damage to the cage is being investigated and Cermaq is working with authorities to manage the situation and identify the cause of the escape, according to local press. The salmon are of commercial size and the farm had begun to harvest.

According to Chilean law, an environmental disaster can only be considered when the company affected is unable to recapture at least 10 percent of the fish escaped. The law allows 30 days for the affected company to control escapes and recapture fish, and Cermaq employees have continued recovery efforts.

“The zero-tolerance plan must be applied,” read a recent headline of Publimetro, the most widely-read newspaper in Chile, regarding the escape.

The breakout is the third of its kind in the last three months in Chile. At the end of September, 27,400 salmon escaped from a broken cage Salmones Aysén’s Huito cultivation facility in the Los Lagos region, and a similar occurrence took place in November at Marine Farm’s Sur Islote center, in Aysén, when some 20,000 units escaped.

In November, Cermaq detected an ISA virus at one of its pens at the Ensenada Rys seawater site, located in southern Chile’s Magallanes Region.

At the time, Cermaq said the virus was found during a routine sampling, but “there have been no signs of disease or elevated mortality.”

Oslo, Norway-headquartered Cermaq is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation. 

Photo courtesy of Sernapesca

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