Over 21,000 salmon escape from fish farm, owners confirm

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 21 February 2018

The MCS Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture says that it’s vital the cause of a large scale escape of salmon from a fish farm near the Isle of Skye is fully understood to prevent it from happening again.

Salmon Farm
© Smalljude

Wild salmon are depleted over much of their range and there is a risk that the escaped farmed salmon will breed with their wild counterparts - adding further pressure on their chances of population survival and recovery.

Samuel Stone,
MCS Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture

Divers made the discovery on Sunday February 11 during check-ups at one of the Grieg Seafood Shetland farms in Loch Snizort on the Isle of Skye. The company estimates it has lost 21,700 fish because of the breach.

“MCS is very alarmed to learn of the escape of nearly 22,000 farmed salmon into the wild on the Isle of Skye. We had hoped recent technical standards put in place for fish farm equipment would have signified the end of these large escape events, and this one follows another escape event in September last year which saw 11,040 farmed salmon escape on Mull,” said Samuel Stone.

Grant Cumming, managing director of Grieg Seafoods, said: “Our priority is to prevent escape and a temporary mend to secure net was immediately applied on Sunday afternoon.

“Marine Scotland was informed of the incident first thing on Monday morning and the net was repaired the same day.

“Since then we have counted the fish in the net and regrettably estimate that we have lost 21,700 fish. The fish were in good health and had not received any medicines lately

Samuel Stone said: “Wild salmon are depleted over much of their range and there is a risk that the escaped farmed salmon will breed with their wild counterparts - adding further pressure on their chances of population, survival and recovery. It’s essential that the cause of this escape is understood and prevented from happening again.”

Greig Seafoods say they are conducting an in-depth investigation to discover the cause of the breach in the net, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. “

The firm operates seven salmon pens at Loch Snizort in Uig, with around 426,000 fish in total. It also farms at several other sites around the Inner Hebridean island and Shetland.

Actions you can take

  1. Find out more about Scottish Wildlife
  2. Download our guide showing how fish are farmed
  3. Browse Scotland's Marine Atlas
  4. Download our guide showing how fish are caught

Did you know?…

21.7 million tonnes of wild caught fish are not for people to eat; almost 75% of this is to feed farmed fish

Farmed marine fin fish production in Scotland is estimated to increase by 30% between 2014-2020

Scotland has 10% of Europe’s coastline

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