This season’s record red tide along Chile’s coastline has resulted in the death of more than 20 million fish. Due to this South American public health crisis, many are now protesting for more extensive investigations of local salmon farms. Coastal waters often turn red in warmer months because of the infectious algal bloom turning the tide’s color and making seafood poisonous. However, the current red tide is said to be the worst and most devastating case in the country’s history.
Chile’s fishing industry has been affected in the worst possible way as Reuters reports the deadly bloom annihilated 15 percent of the local salmon production. The event is a devastating economic blow detracting from production for a total of $800 million. Declaring a governmental emergency zone in the country’s southern region, the algal bloom continues to spread rapidly up the coast of Patagonia. Spanning hundreds of miles, the season’s red tide has poisoned dozens and sparked protests from many of the area’s fishermen.
As tens of thousands riot in support of Chiloe Island, salmon farms continue to suffer from this deadly bloom of algae emitting paralyzing toxins that slaughter marine life. Salmon farmers in the region have been incurring fiscal losses of nearly $10 million daily due to the devastation. Such blooms have been increasing in frequency in both fresh and saltwater bodies globally.
With waters warming due to climate change, manure runoff, inorganic fertilizers and industrial agricultural waste, treatment plants seem to be the top cause of algal blooms. Scientists are blaming El Nino for the uptake that has resulted in such an endless slew of dead sea life washing up along Chilean beaches. After numerous accusations from both communities and local fishermen, the country’s authorities have partnered with the scientific workforce to investigate the local salmon industry. Being the 2nd largest in the world, such a tragic algal bloom has the potential to dump contaminated fish into the ocean’s general supply.
Economy Minister Luis Felipe Cespedes released a statement saying: “A team of five excellent professionals has been formed that will be working on the task of examining the link between the dumping of salmon and the red tide phenomenon.”
Regional prosecutor Marcos Emilfork announced, “I want to categorically affirm that we are investigating the possible criminal acts in regards to the dumping of dead salmon into the sea. Environmental crimes are extremely serious and are a priority.”
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