Fish farm escapes into marine waters covering last 10 years: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information requested

Information relating to escapes of farmed fish in the marine environment in Scotland, specifically:

In relation to all the escapes into marine waters detailed on the Scotland's Aquaculture website, covering the last 10 years:

1. How many escapes were followed by the attempted recapture of fish using any sort of netting?

2. In each case where netting was attempted, how many fish were re-caught during netting at each escape?

3. What information is held concerning damage to wild fish or fisheries as a result of such netting?


Some of the information you have requested is publicly available through Scotland’s Aquaculture website -, for example the numbers of fish recaptured following an escape event. In addition to this, Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate also hold some detailed information on recovery methods. Where our records identify escape events in the marine environment, with attempted recapture relating to ‘any sort of netting’, then this information, along with other details of the individual escape event is provided to you in Annex 1 of this letter.  

It should be emphasised that the information released, in terms of recovery methods and number of escapees recaptured, is not necessarily a complete record of the actions taken in relation to any individual escape event.
I can also inform you that in the past 10 years, two licences to net for escaped farmed fish have been issued by Marine Scotland under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003. Additional licences may have been issued by others (the relevant District Salmon Fisheries Board or the River Tweed Commission, where appropriate), but we do not hold any information on this.
I have provided, within Annex 2 of this letter, some further background with respect to the illegal methods/times of fishing under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003.
In general terms, netting efforts are undertaken infrequently. The activity is a consequence of discussions between local wild fisheries and the salmon farming sector and is the conclusion over the benefit against the harm which may be caused by conducting such activity.

Annex 1 – Escapes with recovery information
Provided as a separate Excel document attached.

Annex 2 – Further details on the requirements under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003
Licensing authorities must either be Marine Scotland Science acting on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, District Salmon Fishery Boards or the River Tweed Commission.
The responsibilities and powers of each authority in relation to use of otherwise illegal methods/times are:

  • District Salmon Fishery Boards are able to issue licences for operations taking place within their districts but only in the case of salmon and sea trout within the fishing season.
  • A licence issued by The Scottish Ministers is required in every other case; the only exception being within the area covered by the River Tweed Commission which issue licences under legislation specific to the Tweed.
  • All fishing operations due to take place during weekly or annual close times (including fishing for salmon by rod and line) must apply for a licence to the Scottish Ministers. Or in the case of the River Tweed area the River Tweed Commission.

Where fish are removed in season, by a legal method in a grade 1 or 2 river, no licence from Scottish Ministers or other authority is required.

About FOI

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FOI-19-01572 Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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