Clean up begins after wellboat carrying 180 tons of salmon sinks near Chile

Authorities have begun a clean up operation near the exit of the Strait of Magellan after the wellboat ‘Heimdall” sank last week while carrying 180 tons of live fish.

Thousands of salmon, which had been picked up from Australis Seafoods’ Punta Ramon site in Chile, died after the vessel ran aground and began taking on water, forcing the 13 crew members to evacuate.

The company that operates the vessel, Detroit Chile, deployed another wellboat, “Var”, on Friday evening to begin the task of removing the salmon from the vessel. At around 5pm on Monday, officials started the removal process, where it will be taken to the National Fisheries Service (Sernapesca) before being disposed of, according to Chilean outlet Ovejero Noticias.

Read also: Authorities demand urgent clean up after wellboat filled with 180 tons of salmon sinks

Removing the fish marks the first phase of the retrieval process. When it has been completed, the fuel onboard will be safely drained before the vessel is refloated and brought back to port.


The Chilean Navy has been on site since the vessel sunk to ensure that the incident does not contaminate the environment. After examining the sunken wellboat, the navy stated that there is no risk the dead fish or fuel will contaminate the surrounding water.

Read also: Chilean wellboat sinks, killing thousands of Australis Seafoods’ salmon

Coastal Patrol Vessel LSG-1617 “Puerto Natales” and OPV-83 “Marinero Fuentealba” are on site to observe and control the situation. Samples have been taken from the area to confirm the navy’s assessment that there is no threat to the environment.

The weather reportedly remains favourable for the recovery operation, which authorities have demanded take place as swiftly as possible.


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