On February 23, Caleta Bay reported an escape occurred in two of its farms in Lake Llanquihue, Los Lagos Region, a well-known salmon farming area in Chile. The company then declared an estimated total of 60,023 escaped fish. Now, Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) has verified the counting of the salmon recovered at both centers and reports that 22,018 fish have been recaptured, representing 36.6% of the total escapement. The company will still have to work to recover the remaining almost 40,000 fish.
Following the escape, Sernapesca carried out an inspection in which it found evidence of broken nets at the bottom of the affected cages. The Chilean authority inspected the recovery of the fish nets from the damaged cages that were at the bottom in both centers, the use of silage from the recovered fish and the recapture of fish inside the modules, and, finally, requested the activation of the Action Plan for Loss of Structures contingencies.
After the entry into force of the new Chilean law to prevent and sanction salmon escapes last January, Caleta Bay could face serious sanctions for this escape. According to the new regulation, the sanction imposed will correspond to the harvest value of the escaped specimens that are not recaptured, but, in addition, the suspension of operations of the site will be decreed for a period of 1 to 4 years, according to the criteria of the authority, which will consider, among other things, whether there have been previous escapes.
The recapture period according to the new law is 30 days, extendable for an additional 30 days, and the company could hire artisanal fishermen to carry out the task. However, in this case, it has not been reported whether Caleta Bay has opted for this possibility, one of the points best valued by experts regarding this law, as the lawyer specializing in aquaculture regulations of the firm Certes, David Zaviezo, explained to WeAreAquaculture.
Sernapesca stated that it will continue to monitor recapture actions and will follow up on these events in order to verify compliance with the contingency plans of the Caleta Bay centers affected in the Totoral sector of Lake Llanquihue.
Caleta Bay is a family company that raises rainbow trout and coho salmon in the south of Chile both in freshwater – in several lakes – and in seawater – in the Puerto Montt area -. Headquartered in Chile, most of its products are exported to Asia, 80%, and North America, 13%, while only a small part to Russia, 6%, and Latin America, 1%.