Fish escapes halved - but salmon farms have 'long way to go'

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
12 February 2007, at 12:00am

SCOTLAND - The number of salmon escaping from Scottish fish farms has halved in the past four years, an industry body will be told today.

The number of escapes has fallen from 310,000 in 2002, when statutory reporting began, to 157,000 in 2006.

Wildlife experts monitor the number of escaped fish because they can carry disease and affect the genes of wild species if they reproduce.

The figures will be delivered to the ministerial working group on aquaculture, which includes representatives from the fish farming industry, environmental groups and the deputy minister for environment and rural development.

Siden Patten, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, will tell the group preventing escapes is a vital part of an industry improvement programme.

"Effective containment is a priority. With the exception of the severe storms in January 2005, when a handful of the 278 active sites suffered badly, there has been a significant declining trend since reporting began," he said.

"As 95 per cent of the tonnage of the salmon farming industry has signed-up to the Code of Good Practice for Finfish Aquaculture since it was launched in March 2006, we hope this trend will continue."

More than 70 million smolts (young fish) were put to sea in the past two years, and although the 2006 escapes correspond to less than 1 per cent of the total amount of fish, Mr Patten said they represented a significant commercial loss for the farmer.

Source: The Scotsman