Tens of thousands of salmon have escaped from a fish farm off Colonsay – with campaigners warning of an ecological “disaster” for wild fish.
Norwegian fish farming giant Mowi has revealed that a cage was damaged when Storm Brendan passed through the area last week.
Almost 74,000 fish escaped through a tear in the cage netting.
The incident is the third major escape from Mowi’s new generation of high capacity offshore sites in Scotland in just over a year.
Last October and in November 2018 more than 48,000 salmon escaped from the firm’s Hellisay site in the Western Isles.
Escapes have an economic impact on fish farming companies.
Conservationists and angling groups also have concerns that breeding between farmed and wild salmon harms wild fish stocks.
“We are very disappointed that this structural failure has occurred,” says David MacGillivray, Mowi’s regional farm manager. “Despite storm Brendan severely battering many parts of Scotland’s coast last week and Colonsay being a remote and particularly exposed location, we expect our modern infrastructure to withstand these challenges.”
The farm’s net pens exceed both the Scottish and Norwegian technical standards for net pen design, Mowi added.
The incident is the third major escape from Mowi’s new generation off offshore, high-energy sites in Scotland in the last 14 months.