Thirty-three thousand trout escape into Loch

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Dawnfresh fish escaped into Loch Etive earlier this month. Marine Scotland has now confirmed numbers.

Dawnfresh has confirmed that 33,000 trout escaped from one of its farms into Loch Etive after a hole was found in one of the nets, reports the Oban Times.

Dawnfresh farming director Alison Hutchins told the publication: “On June 14, while our team were assisting the local salmon fisheries board with a sample count on fish on Loch Etive, we discovered a number of trout which had come from one of our farms.

“Fish health and welfare is among our top concerns and we have well-trained professional teams at all of our sites so we take these incidents very seriously and are always looking at ways to improve in the future.

“A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) was used to inspect the nets as soon as possible, which was in the early hours of June 15, and a hole was found in one of the nets. This was immediately fixed.’

“As is standard practice in these instances, we undertook an immediate investigation into what caused this fault and ordered a count of the cage at the first available opportunity, which was Wednesday (June 26) when a wellboat visited the farm. We have now confirmed, and informed Marine Scotland, that the number of fish missing from the pen is a little over thirty-three thousand.

“We looked at option to seine net the River Awe but this proved impossible due to current and debris. Our investigations of the incident thus far indicate that the hole in the net was caused while upgrading our bridles to chains from nylon.

“Marine Scotland investigators visited the site on Thursday (June 27) to conduct their own investigation into what happened.

“We have already put in place measures to prevent this situation from happening again and increased the frequency of net inspections using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).”

In 2018, more than 5,000 Dawnfresh fish escaped from a freshwater trout farm into Loch Awe.