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Storm Ellen: Argyll fish farm with 550,000 salmon breaks free

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  • Storm Ellen
image copyrightCorin Smith
image captionDrone images suggest three of the pens may have been damaged
A fish farm in Argyll containing about 550,000 salmon has broken free of its moorings in Storm Ellen.
Owner Mowi said it has temporarily secured the 10 pens at the North Carradale farm, near Campbeltown, after its seabed anchors became dislodged.
The firm said there are no reports of escapes at this stage.
Pictures taken using a drone passed to BBC Scotland suggest that three of the pens at the Argyll farm have been damaged.
image copyrightCorin Smith
Environmental campaigners say it is "highly likely" that the integrity of the nets will have been "significantly compromised".
Watchdog Marine Scotland has been informed and Mowi said it would conduct a full investigation once the storm had passed.

'Genetic integrity'

Andrew Graham-Stewart, director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, said: "It is highly likely that, free of their moorings, the integrity of the nets holding the salmon will have been significantly compromised, thus allowing the fish to escape."
He said the consequences of such a large number of mature farmed salmon of Norwegian origin escaping into the environment were potentially "very serious".
He added: "They are likely to run into the rivers of Argyll, the Firth of Clyde and Ayrshire in great numbers and, by spawning and breeding with wild Scottish salmon, severely impact the genetic integrity of our depleted native salmon populations."

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