Fish farm body under fire in row over escape numbers

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

SCOTLAND - Wild fish groups have attacked the chief executive of the salmon farming trade body over "selective and disingenuous" use of figures relating to fish farm escapes.

On Monday Sid Patten, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, told a ministerial working group on aquaculture that the number of salmon escaping from Scottish fish farms has halved in the past four years.

He said the number of escapes had fallen from 310,000 in 2002, when statutory reporting began, to 157,000 in 2006. He also questioned claims of escaped farmed fish outnumbering wild fish.

But yesterday Roger Brooks, chairman of the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), said the average number of salmon escaping from farms annually between 2003 and 2006 exceeded the figure for 2002. "Accordingly, it is entirely misleading for the salmon farming industry to suggest that they now have escapes under control," he said.