Loss of 20,000 salmon could hit com­pany for around £100,000

The Oban Times - - News -

THOU­SANDS of farmed salmon, worth in ex­cess of £100,000, have es­caped from a fish farm off the Isle of Mull in one of the in­dus­try’s big­gest breaches.

Around 20,000 At­lantic salmon es­caped from a Mull fish farm at Bloody Bay, run by Scot­tish Sea Farms (SSF), on March 25, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased on Scot­land’s Aqua­cul­ture web­site.

It cites a ‘preda­tor’ as the rea­son for the salmon es­cape, and for the re­lease of 1,300 wrasse, used as a ‘cleaner fish’ to con­trol lice, on the same day.

Scot­tish Sea Farms blamed a tear to a net wall, most prob­a­bly caused by a seal, which was ‘fully re­paired within hours of no­ti­fi­ca­tion. SSF typ­i­cally use acous­tic de­ter­rents,’ a spokesper­son ex­plained, ‘but on a pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ci­ple their use is pro­hib­ited at this spe­cific lo­ca­tion.’

The cost is ‘likely to ex­ceed £100,000 in stock value’, she said, adding: ‘This loss is deeply re­gret­ted by farm staff and SSF.’

The breach is the big­gest in Scot­land since 300,000 salmon es­caped from a site in the Outer He­brides last May, ac­cord­ing to Scot­land’s Aqua­cul­ture.

The es­cape could have en­vi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences for the Sound of Mull, but the im­pact was ‘un­clear at this point’, the SSF spokesper­son added. She said: ‘The fish were young and in ex­cel­lent health and most likely to head di­rectly to the deep sea.

‘Records show a very high level of con­tain­ment com­pli­ance over the years,’ adding that fish es­capes of this size are ‘ex­tremely un­usual within SSF’.

Scot­land’s en­vi­ron­men­tal watch­dog SEPA (Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency) said ‘an es­cape may re­sult in pres­sures on lo­cal wa­ter en­vi­ron­ment, in re­spect of in­ter­ac­tions with wild salmon’.

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