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Technicians from the Center for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (Cendepesca) collect samples of water and mollusks

Massive shellfish mortality on 7 kilometers of coastline in La Unión causes alarm among fishermen

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 15:00 (GMT + 9)

The fishermen state that it is the first time that there is massive death of mussels, clams, cúriles and cockles

The artisanal fishermen of the coastal communities of the municipalities of La Unión and Conchagua are alarmed at the massive death of mollusks.

The fact, which began about ten days ago and has been increasing, has caused estimated losses of more than $ 25,000 for those who live from the commercialization of these marine products.

This is the first time that a mass death of mollusks has occurred on the coast, said the residents of the Huisquil canton of Conchagua.

Those affected estimate the death of more than one million mollusks scattered over an area of ​​approximately seven kilometers of coasts in the department of La Unión.

Photo EDH / Insy Mendoza

The fishermen said that, after the appearance of millions of clams, mussels, curiles and dead donkey hulls, they perceived a strong smell of fuel, in addition to water with mixtures of fat.

The locals fear that the deaths of the shells have been caused by some chemical spill from a ship in the area.

However, the biologist Enrique Barraza, consulted about it, said that first an analysis of the oxygen in the area should be done, to rule out that it is not a flowering of algae or the arrival of a virus that affected the bivalves (mussels and clams ).

Photo EDH / Insy Mendoza

“The first thing that amazes me is that there are no dead fish and crabs, a chemical would be discarded and the bivalves that have died are a mollusk that cannot be moved, so possibly some kind of algal bloom or low oxygen is what caused That death. It could be considered a virus that arrived. It would be necessary to make analyzes especially of the oxygen to discard ”, indicated the expert.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has already initiated an investigation to determine what caused the death of the mollusks in a sector of the Perico Island in La Unión. He has previously reported that salinity and surface current do not indicate the existence of red tide.

He also recommended people who, as a precaution, do not consume mollusks in the area.

Photo EDH / Insy Mendoza

Subsistence Product

When touring the affected areas and when the tide drops, several kilometers of dead shells are observed on the shores of the beaches and estuaries.

Men, women and children arrive in the areas, hoping to get some mollusks out of the mud alive and then market them.

Mártir Pérez, president of the Fishermen's Cooperative of El Conchillal, canton Huisquil, of Conchagua, said that on Friday 15 technicians from the Center for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (Cendepesca) arrived to collect samples of the mollusks and waters to do the research respective.

Photo EDH / Insy Mendoza

According to Pérez, there is serious concern because thousands of families are living off the work of the mollusk extraction that is then marketed in the markets.

"The dead mollusks appeared, the smell was felt as fuel in the water and as oil stains," Perez added.

In the El Conchillal cooperative, they lost around $ 8,000 in the nursery production of the Japanese oyster and the donkey's helmet.

Alexander Asencio, fisherman of the El Conchillal cooperative, says that the whole product is dying, they have no resources left.

Some people are going to the estuaries to try to get clams or helmets; They dig between the mud and what they take out are more dead than alive clams, some that are still alive die in less than four hours after they have been collected, the villager said.

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