Nearly 25,000 1kg salmon escaped from a fish-farm off Barra in November, according to a report submitted to Marine Scotland this month (December 2018).
New and ‘robust’ equipment installed by Marine Harvest at the Hellisay sea site was not up to the battering the site took from storms during November, and the fish escaped from torn netting in a single cage.
The company said they had reported the weather conditions and the potential for escape on November 11th, and when staff were able to access the site safely their inventory confirmed that 24,572 salmon, each weighing approximately 1.1kg, had escaped from one cage.
The remaining stocked cages did not suffer significant damage and salmon held there have since been moved to other locations in Uist.
The equipment on site was new, robust and exceeded the Scottish Technical Standards, but Marine Harvest’s operations director (farming) Gideon Pringle said: “We are very disappointed that our infrastructure was unable to withstand these severe weather challenges.” He added that the company needed to do a better job at keeping fish contained, so will review moorings, nets and cages at offshore locations, and make all necessary changes.