This responsibility applies equally to the freshwater growing stage and the on-growing stage out on our marine farms.

Freshwater stage

Contained growing areas, Barcaldine Hatchery

In recent years, as part of a wider overhaul of our freshwater operations, we took the decision to break away from the traditional approach of raising young salmon in open pen freshwater lochs.

Now, all our young fish are kept securely contained within our land-based hatchery facilities for the entirety of the freshwater stage, after which they are transferred by well-boat to one of our marine farms for on-growing.

 


Marine stage

Extreme weather. A seal biting into a net causing it to tear. Or a technical or operational failure when transferring fish in or out of pens. These are just some of the potential incidents that could result in a fish escape or suspected fish escape.

Our approach has been to:

  • Robustly risk assess every aspect of our farming activities and infrastructure
  • Continue investing in ever-stronger mooring technology, pen designs and netting systems that are better able to withstand rough weather conditions and predation
  • Regularly inspect farm infrastructure both above and below water to ensure nothing has been compromised
  • Introduce clear procedures for avoiding escapes when transferring fish in or out of sea pens and provide training in these new procedures for all staff.

Monitoring our progress

Fish escapes, or any suspicion of a fish escape, must be reported immediately to Marine Scotland.

The details are then made publicly available via aquaculture.scotland.gov.uk

Thanks to our farmers’ diligence, and our ongoing investment in upgrading farm infrastructure, we have experienced just one confirmed escape event across our 42-strong farming estate in the last five years (2017-2021).

This event occurred in 2017, was caused by seal predation, and resulted in 17,891 fish escaping.

Swipe for more

Year Events | Cause | Fish lost

2021

0 | Not applicable | Not applicable

2020

0 | Not applicable | Not applicable

2019

2 | Seal | 0

2018

0 | Not applicable | Not applicable

2017

1 | Seal | 17,891

Full data available at aquaculture.scotland.gov.uk

Each case was seal-related so it’s no coincidence that over the same years one of the key areas in which we’ve invested is the roll-out of rigid new HDPE netting systems that have been specially designed to keep salmon safely in and the local seal population out.

You can read more about these netting systems here.