Salmon wellboat sinks in Southern Chile

Published on
October 20, 2017

A wellboat loaded with 37,000 salmon and 67,000 liters of fuel has sunk off the coast of Chiloe, in Southern Chile. Authorities, including four Chilean naval units, are working to contain the spill and impact of the incident.

The Chilean navy is heading the contingency effort, and in a statement confirmed that the wellboat “Seikongen” sunk after a perforation in its hull. All 11 members of its crew were rescued, and authorities are now focusing on the clean-up and recovery efforts.

The navy also confirmed that the chambers carrying the 37,000  salmon remained sealed, but without oxygen, so although the fish have likely died, there is not a risk of environmental damage as a result.

A load of 67,000 liters of fuel is also a source of concern, but naval authorities have also confirmed that the tank carrying the liquid also remained sealed, and for the moment there is not risk of a larger spill. 

Nonetheless, the maritime governor of the area where the ship sunk, Captain Hector Aravena, said that naval officials have installed anti-commination barriers in the area of the sinking, and have dispatched scuba divers to confirm the status of the ship. Two fuel drums on the deck of the ship did spill, releasing an estimated 600 liters of fuel into the sea.

The owner of the wellboat, CPT, has been in meetings with the navy to coordinate recovery efforts of the ship and continue with preventative anti-contamination measures. The firm will also meet with Chile’s fishery service Sernapesca to plan the recovery of the salmon.

The wellboat was finishing work in the Pilpilehue fishery, off the coast of Chonchi, and was on its way back to shore. According to the Maritime Herald, the fish onboard the vessel were in the process of being harvested from a farm owned by Chilean salmon company Camanchaca, and the ship sunk as a result of poor loading stowage.

Reporting from Santiago, Chile

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