Walter Baxter / / CC BY-SA 2.0

UK - Major Salmon Genetics Study Launched

One of the most comprehensive studies of wild Atlantic salmon genetics has begun in Scotland to gauge the impact of any interbreeding between wild and farm-raised salmon.

The study has been launched in response to a recent escape of farm-raised salmon and will be managed by the wild-fish conservation body Fisheries Management Scotland, supported by Government scientists from Marine Scotland Science, and funded by Mowi Scotland.

The multi-year study of 115 sites aims to confirm wild salmon’s current genetic profile and to track for the potential of genetic changes should interbreeding of farmed and wild salmon occur.

In late August, Mowi Scotland confirmed that 48,834 farm-raised salmon escaped from its aquaculture facility in the Firth of Clyde after becoming detached from its seabed anchors during a combination of strong weather events.

Since the escape, Fisheries Management Scotland has been working with member District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fisheries Trusts, as well as angling associations, to monitor the situation and mitigate where possible. Escaped farmed salmon have been caught by anglers in multiple rivers across Loch Lomond, Ayrshire, Clyde, Argyll and in rivers in north-west England.

The priority for Fisheries Management Scotland and their members has been to ensure that any farmed fish are removed from the rivers, humanely dispatched, and scale samples submitted to enable accurate identification, and Mowi has committed to support these actions.

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