Mechanical delousing taking place in Scotland. The SSPO is to make lice numbers of member companies public. Photo: FFE

1,558 fish lost after rope breaks during delousing

More than 1,500 salmon escaped during a mechanical lice treatment operation at Marine Harvest Scotland's Loch Alsh farm in November.

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The company's business support manager, Steve Bracken, said a rope broke on a fish discharge pipe, allowing 1,558 fish estimated at 4.7kg to slip into the sea.

He said new procedures had been put in place to prevent a reocurrence.

The incident happened on November 23 and was reported to Marine Scotland the same day, although the number of fish that escaped was not available at the time.

The incident was the third-largest escape of salmon in Scotland last year. In March 17,398 salmon with an average weight of 1.3kg escaped at Scottish Sea Farms' Bloody Bay site through a hole in a net. The hole was believed to have been made by a seal.

And in August the Scottish Salmon Company lost 11,040 fish weighing an average of 2.8kg at its Geasgill farm. The loss was attributed to human error.