Sunday Mail (UK)
300,000 salmon are killed as storm batters fish farm
One of Scotland’s biggest salmon farms lost stock worth £9million after being hit by a heavy storm.
About 300,000 fish died at the Marine Harvest site at Carradale, Argyll.
The company are investigating new ways to weigh down nets at the huge site, which has up to 20 pens in which salmon are grown.
The fish are believed to have weighed about 1kg each – about a fifth of their target weight. Salmon can fetch about £30 per fish when fully grown.
The dead stock were removed from the pens and taken away in waste tankers.
Norwegian-based Marine Harvest are one of the world’s largest seafood f irms and the biggest producer of Atlantic salmon.
They employ about 500 people at sites in Scotland. The company are trialling a new net-weighting system at eight pens at the site.
The firm hope that introducing a different way of storing the fish will prevent further losses during extreme weather conditions.
A source said: “The fish died because the nets were billowing up in the rough sea. This caused the fish to be rubbed by the nets, damaging the scales.
“Because of this loss, the company are having to change the weighting system on the pens.
“They are placing 20 huge weight rings, which are 120m in circumference and weighing nine tons each, on the seabed.
“Basically, the weight system was inadequate and is being re-appraised.”
Steve Bracken, of Marine Harvest, said: “During a severe storm in March, with exceptionally heavy seas and gale-force winds, 300,000 fish died at our Carradale farm.
“This was a very rare incident, largely due to the wind coming from the east and north- east, which is unusual at this site. To prevent this happening again, we are carrying out trials of a new net weighting system.
“The weights which usually hold down the pen nets are being stored on the seabed while the trial is under way and will be moved once it is over. This has been approved by Marine Scotland.”
The new net-weighting system has been assessed by marine watchdogs.
The Scottish Government said: “Marine Scotland have investigated and confirmed there has not been a breach of marine licensing rules.”