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Great salmon escape could turn wild fish into couch potatoes

UK - They are an identical species, but while one is lean and incredibly fit, the SAS of the fish world, the other is an obese, idle creature, a couch potato with fins. When the two interbreed, the results can be a genetic disaster.

Such a disaster looms, according to experts, after the escape of more than 100,000 farmed Atlantic salmon over the past six months on the West Coast.

In the latest incident, at the end of last week, 30,000 maturing 2.5kg (5.5lb) fish escaped from their cage in West Loch Roag, off the coast of Lewis, after a seal attack.

The escape, which was detected four days ago, comes at a time when wild salmon are approaching the rivers to spawn, meaning that there could be intermingling and genetic dilution of the wild fish. These are extremely fit creatures, swimming thousands of miles across oceans, then battling their way upstream.

If they spawn with the flabby, cage-reared fish, it is claimed that the offspring can be genetically weak and the wild salmon population, which is recovering after some very bad years, could be threatened.

Source: TimesOnline

the Fish Site Editor

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