Environment Agency Advice following Escape of Farmed Salmon

The Environment Agency and Fisheries Management Scotland are warning anglers to be vigilant for the last month of the fishing season following confirmed cases of escaped farmed salmon caught on the River Derwent and the Border Esk.

48,834 fish from the Carradale North site, Mowi farm, escaped after the farm became detached from its seabed anchors during Storm Ellen in the summer. Fisheries Management Scotland have been making efforts to manage and mitigate the escape, however, it has been confirmed that six farmed fish have been caught on the River Ehen, the Border Esk and on the Cumbrian Derwent river with more fish suspected to be in other local rivers.

The Environment Agency and Fisheries Management Scotland are working together to ensure consistent guidance for anglers in England and Scotland and are urging anglers to report any captures on the Fisheries Management Scotland reporting system.

Brian Shields from the Environment Agency, said: “We want to see as many wild fish spawning as possible to benefit future fish generations which is why want to make sure these farmed fish can be removed from our rivers, within the law, to prevent future damage to the wild stocks.

We are working closely with Fisheries Management Scotland to co-ordinate the recording of these farmed fish captures, and we are asking anglers to be vigilant to these escaped fish for the last few weeks of the fishing season”.

Fisheries Management Scotland Aquaculture Interactions Manager, Polly Burns, said: “We are happy to be working with the Environment Agency to develop consistent guidance, to avoid any confusion. We are asking anglers in England and on the Border Esk to use the same reporting system anglers are using in Scotland to keep catch records of these farmed fish in one place.

Farmed fish are most usually distinguishable by damaged fins. If a farmed fish is caught it should be humanely dispatched. Importantly a sample of scales should be taken, which will allow us to confirm that the fish is of farmed origin. Detailed guidance on this process is available on the news pages of the Fisheries Management Scotland website. We feared these fish could turn up further afield and that stresses the importance of anglers being aware wherever they may be fishing on the West coast of the UK.”

If you have any queries regarding the guidance please contact the Environment Agency. NWIFCA officers are unable to advise on these measures.

View information on what to do if you catch a farmed fish (external pdf)

View reporting form for captured farmed fish (external smartsheet form)

View Photo ID Guide for Anglers (external pdf)