Mowi Scotland contacted Fisheries Management Scotland and the Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board and Fisheries Trusts on 20th August to inform us that their salmon farm at Carradale North, consisting of ten 120m circular net pens containing 550,000 salmon, shifted position after its seabed anchors became dislodged during Storm Ellen.

At the time of writing, it is unclear as to the number of fish which may have escaped from the farm, but we anticipate that significant numbers of adult (approximately 4.2kg) salmon may have escaped into the Firth of Clyde.

Dr Alan Wells, Chief Executive of Fisheries Management Scotland said, “This is clearly a very concerning event, and we need to understand the circumstances which led to the integrity of the farm being compromised to this extent during weather conditions not unknown in the Firth of Clyde. In Norway, interbreeding between wild and escaped farmed fish is considered the greatest threat to wild Atlantic salmon and it is important that all avenues are explored to mitigate impacts on wild salmon arising from this event. We will be working with Mowi Scotland and Marine Scotland to ensure that this occurs. In the longer-term we must learn the lessons required to ensure that it is not repeated in future.

“Fisheries Management Scotland have contacted the relevant District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fisheries Trusts to alert them to this situation and to remain vigilant to reports of capture of these fish. It is important that anglers remain alert to any farmed fish entering our rivers. Any farmed fish caught by anglers should be humanely despatched and reported to the Fish Health Inspectorate.”

Marine Scotland guidance relating to escaped farmed fish, and national conservation regulations can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.

Salmon of farmed origin may exhibit some or all of the following physical characteristics:

  • Deformed or shortened fins (especially the dorsal, pectoral and tail fins)
  • Deformed or shortened gill covers (may be only on one side)
  • Deformed or shortened snout
  • Heavy pigmentation (spots more numerous than are usual on wild salmon)

If anglers catch suspected farmed fish they should alert Marine Scotland’s duty inspector mailbox.