Order to kill after farmed salmon escape
River workers have expressed concern for the purity of wild salmon in Argyll after more than 11,000 farmed fish escaped.
The escape from a Scottish Salmon Company farm at Geasgill on Mull was reported to Marine Scotland after employees recorded low numbers during a routine grading exercise.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) Fishing Group said 11,040 farmed salmon entered rivers including the River Ba, one of the few rivers in the west of Scotland given a class 1 rating for salmon conservation.
Ghillies in the area have ordered any farmed salmon caught to be killed and not returned to the river.
Gamekeepers also say there is “real concern” cross-breeding between farmed salmon and wild salmon will weaken the wild gene pool.
Greg Marsh, of the SGA Fishing Group, who looks after operations at River Coladoir and Loch Scridain said: “The Ba is a class one river, which means it is rated by Scottish Government scientists as having the highest grading for conservation of wild salmon. Those on the environmental side in Scottish Government need to raise greater awareness of the dangers to wild fish caused by escapes from fish farms and start doing something more effective about it.”
Mr Marsh says all Scottish anglers need to be able to identify farmed salmon in rivers to ensure the fish are not being re-released.
One of the key differences is that vents on a wild salmon will be reddy/ brown and slightly swollen at this time of year.
Farmed salmon have silver vents and their tail and pectoral fins look smaller and are often shredded.
Farmed salmon pose a risk to wild stocks if released