Following the recent mass escape at the North Carradale site, numerous farmed salmon have now been caught by anglers, and Fisheries Management Scotland are asking for angler’s assistance in monitoring the situation.
Mowi have confirmed that 48,834 fish from the ten cage Carradale North site escaped after the farm became detached from its sea bed anchors during Storm Ellen. Soon after the escape some salmon turned up dead on Carradale beaches. However now Fisheries Management Scotland have been informed of significant numbers of farmed fish caught by anglers in multiple rivers across Loch Lomond, Ayrshire, Clyde and Argyll.
Fisheries Management Scotland Aquaculture Interactions Manager, Polly Burns, said: “Fisheries Management Scotland are working with our members to ensure everything is being done to monitor the situation and mitigate where possible. 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. 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. Detailed guidance on this process is available on the news pages of the Fisheries Management Scotland website. These salmon could show up further afield from the Clyde area so we’re asking all anglers on the West Coast to be aware.
“We also need to understand any impacts this escape will have on our wild salmon through interbreeding of wild and farmed fish. Fisheries Management Scotland are working with Marine Scotland Science and Mowi to develop a genetic monitoring programme.”
In April 2020, the Salmon Interactions Working Group (SIWG) made several recommendations in relation to escaped farmed fish. Once the SIWG recommendations are adopted, the regulatory system will enforce tighter restrictions and increased penalties for any escapes. Fisheries Management Scotland are actively working with the Scottish Government to ensure these recommendations are implemented as soon as possible.
Fisheries Management Scotland have produced guidance on how to ID farmed fish and the steps that should be followed and are asking captures to be recorded in their central reporting form.