Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chilean Salmon fall prey to alga bloom - effects ripple through the industry

Chile is the world's second largest salmon exporter, only Norway ships more. Because of the recent El Nino and global warming, ocean temperatures have risen by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. When this warmer water is added to the runoff from Chile's many cattle operations, it makes a great environment for algae, which can kill salmon. 

According to industry representatives, over 23 million fish have already died, a loss of $800 million to the Chilean economy. So far, 37 of the more than 500 fish farms have been affected. "There are so many dead fish, they could easily fill 14 Olympic size swimming pools," according to Jose Miguel Burgos, a government official.

Chances are that the algae bloom will spread in the warming waters, which will take even more fish off the market. The result will be pressure on competing salmon markets in Norway, Scotland, Canada and elsewhere, plus on supplies that are wild caught. When such a big player is affected this dramatically, the increased demand in other markets will undoubtedly send up prices.

So be prepared for higher salmon prices this summer - environmental problems can easily filter down to our pocketbooks.  

In the Southern Hemisphere, Chile is entering their autumn, and I'm sure their salmon industry is praying for an early winter. Perhaps they should do a better job of controlling run-off from cattle.