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Marine Harvest sea farms. (Photo: Marine Harvest)

Marine Harvest salmon escape raises concern

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 03:40 (GMT + 9)

Thousands of salmon worth about GBP 240,000 have escaped from a Marine Harvest farm at Carradale, Argyll, raising concern about the likelihood of breeding with wild fish stocks.

Sector sources informed FIS.com that the 16,000 fish escaped through a hole in the net following stormy seas and strong winds on 2 June.

The Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) believes that the fish are mature and that they will migrate into important salmon rivers in the Firth of Clyde, genetically diluting wild stocks.

“There is a real danger that these fish may survive in sufficient numbers to breed with wild salmon in this area, leading to the genetic dilution of the wild fish population with farmed fish, which are largely descended from Norwegian and not Scottish fish, pointed out S&TA solicitor Guy Linley-Adams.

The solicitor added that this is very bad news for the long term survival of western Scotland’s wild salmon.

However, Marine Harvest maintains that the fish are not mature, and therefore will not attempt to migrate into local rivers, but will swim out to sea.

The firm insists the fish, which were not sexually mature, pose little threat to local salmon populations.

The firm's business support manager Steve Bracken added: “Immature fish would tend to go out to sea. It’s unlikely they would head upstream to breed.”

For his part, Marine Harvest managing director Allan Sutherland highlighted the aim of the company is to prevent fish escapes and that they will continue to closely monitor all the equipment on the farms to ensure that fish escapes do not happen in the future.

It is considered to be the biggest escape from a Scottish mainland marine salmon farm since 2009, when nearly 59,000 fish escaped from a farm operated by Lighthouse Caledonia at Strone Point in Argyll.


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