Posted by: Peter Urpeth | November 12, 2010

‘Big Blow to fish farm as 4’000 salmon escape cage’

Press and Journal

Friday 12 November 2010

‘Big blow’ to fish farm as 4,000 salmon worth £80,000 escape cage
highly unlikely they will go up local rivers, say owners
By Jane Candlish

Around 4,000 fish worth £80,000 escaped from a fish farm in north-west Sutherland this week after the net containing them was damaged.

Owners Loch Duart Ltd said yesterday that the damage was discovered on Tuesday, adding that the loss of the salmon was a “big blow” to the company.

Managing director Nick Joy said that 4,000 of the 10,000 salmon in their Loch Laxford pen escaped.

It is believed that the damage may have been caused by the propeller of a workboat which was alongside the pen.

Loch Duart Ltd is an independent Scottish salmon farm based in Sutherland and the Hebrides. It produces 5,200 tonnes of fish each year and employs some 85 people.

Mr Joy said: “We are deeply sorry about the loss of these fish as we have let ourselves down. It is an operational error that has caused this and we regret it deeply. We will investigate and tighten up procedures where they are found lacking. This is big blow to our morale and a loss to the Sutherland staff that put so much into looking after these salmon.”

Mr Joy added: “The fish that have escaped are in their first year at sea. None of the fish are mature and we believe it to be highly unlikely that any will go towards or up the local rivers.

“It is likely that they will fall prey to seals and other predators as there are plenty in the area. That being said, we have informed all the local consultees and will co-operate in any way if they believe that we have caused any risk to the environment.

“We have let down our own standard both for our company and for those who exist around our business. We apologise and accept our responsibility to improve.”

He added that the local fishery board and Scottish Government had been told about the escape.

Reporting escapes is a condition of the authorisation for aqua-culture production businesses under the Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Marine Scotland has been notified about the incident at Loch Laxford, as is required under statutory obligations. Marine Scotland’s fish health inspectors will now take forward an investigation into the circumstances of the escape.”

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