NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Fish farm loses 155,000 salmon as a result of extreme weather

Atlantic salmon
Image caption Severe weather is being blamed for the fault which allowed about 155,000 salmon to escape

About 155,000 salmon have escaped from a fish farm in Shetland, its operators have confirmed.

Meridian Salmon Group blamed damage caused to fish cages by recent strong winds and heavy seas.

The fish farm at the Ness of Copister, on the island of Yell, had more than 364,000 salmon in cages before they were battered by recent gale force winds and rough seas.

All of the remaining salmon on the site have been moved to new locations.

After being alerted to the damage, diving teams worked to repair and salvage equipment but failed to prevent the fish escaping.

Meridian said the gales were the worst in decades, but it now plans to review its mooring systems to make sure it doesn't happen again.

'Unacceptable losses'

A Meridian Salmon Group spokesman said: "Gale force winds and large swells caused a major failure of the mooring equipment which subsequently damaged a number of the eight cages on the site.

"Staff - including diving teams - have been working in very demanding conditions during the continued extreme weather to carry out repair and salvage operations and to try to assess the impact of the incident."

He added: "After weather conditions relented to allow a thorough site assessment, it has been determined that 154,569 fish were lost.

"However, losses like this are not acceptable and we will be carrying out a full review of our systems to ensure we have no similar incidents in the future."

No monetary value has yet been put on the loss.

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