The Scottish Salmon Company contacted the Skye and Lochalsh Fisheries Trust and Fisheries Management Scotland on the 7th January 2021 to inform us that their salmon farm at Portree, Skye, had lost over 50,000 juvenile salmon following damage to the net caused by seal damage.
The Scottish Salmon Company have confirmed that the fish, which escaped on New Year’s Eve, were 400g in size. The rest of the site has been checked for any further damage to nets. Scottish Salmon Company are now in the process of changing all the nets to SealPro on the site to prevent further damage.
Fisheries Management Scotland are now working with the Scottish Salmon Company, Marine Scotland and the local fisheries trust to monitor the impact of this escape and consider appropriate recapture efforts. As it is out with the fishing season, Fisheries Management Scotland are not asking anglers to attempt to catch these fish at this stage; doing so without a license is illegal.
Polly Burns, Aquaculture Interactions Manager for Fisheries Management Scotland said, “We are disappointed to hear of another significant escape from Scotland’s aquaculture industry. It is important that the industry does all it can to minimise negative escapes arising from interactions with seals. We are pleased Scottish Salmon Company have advanced progress in changing the nets to SealPro for this site but unfortunately it has come too late for this escape. In Norway, interbreeding between wild and escaped farmed fish is considered the greatest threat to wild Atlantic salmon. Whilst the escaped salmon are of a size where direct negative impacts on wild salmon are unlikely, it is important that all avenues are explored to assess, and if necessary mitigate, any impacts on wild salmon arising from this event. We will be working with Scottish Salmon Company and Marine Scotland to ensure that this occurs.”
Isabel Moore, Biologist for the Skye and Lochalsh Rivers Trust said, “The Skye and Lochalsh Rivers Trust and local Skye stakeholders are concerned by the news of this significant escape from the Scottish Salmon Company Portree farm site. The potential threat of farmed escapes on wild salmon populations are well understood and need to be taken seriously. Skye and Lochalsh Rivers Trust is seeking guidance from Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland to coordinate effective mitigation measures for this situation. We will do whatever we can to minimise any impacts of this escape and investigate the future consequences on our wild fish populations.”