Anglers told to kill escaped farmed salmon caught in rivers

Anglers are being asked to look out for farmed salmon in rivers on Scotland’s west coast after the mass escape of nearly 50,000 fish from a farm in Argyll during last month’s Storm Ellen.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 4:45 pm

The warning comes after reports of an increasing number of the cultivated fish being hooked in the wild, sparking fears they could pose a major threat to Scotland’s already declining native salmon populations.There is concern that farmed escapees could breed with wild fish, creating hybrids that would affect the genetic make-up of Scottish salmon in the future.Anglers are being asked to humanely kill any farmed fish they catch and report their findings to representative organisation Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS), which is monitoring the situation.The North Carradale farm, owned by Norwegian firm Mowi, contained 550,700 salmon before the storm on 20 August.Four of the ten cages were damaged when they broke free from their moorings in the bad weather.Mowi said a total of 48,834 salmon escaped as a result of the incident, while 30,616 died and a further 125,000 were harvested.Soon after the escape some of the farmed salmon were found dead on Carradale beaches.However, significant numbers have since been caught by anglers in multiple rivers across Loch Lomond, Ayrshire, Clyde and Argyll.Polly Burns, aquaculture interactions manager for FMS, stressed the importance of taking the correct action.“Given the risks these fish pose to the genetic integrity of Scotland’s wild salmon populations, we appreciate the ongoing vigilance among the angling community,” she said.“It is essential that this continues and that anglers are clear about what to do should they capture such fish.“Farmed fish are most usually distinguishable by damaged fins. If a farmed fish is caught it should be humanely killed.“Importantly, a sample of scales should be taken, which will allow us to confirm that the fish is of farmed origin.”She also warned that farmed fish could show up further afield from the Clyde area, stressing that all anglers on the west coast should be vigilant.Detailed guidance on what people should to do if they catch or find any escaped fish and how to report findings is available on the FMS website.

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Anglers have been catching cultivated salmon in the wild in Scottish rivers after nearly 50,000 escaped from a fish farm on the west coast during Storm Ellen
Anglers have been catching cultivated salmon in the wild in Scottish rivers after nearly 50,000 escaped from a fish farm on the west coast during Storm Ellen

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Joy Yates

Anglers are being asked to look out for farmed salmon in Scottish rivers - the escaped fish can be identified by damaged dorsal fins

Editorial Director

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