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Scientists have created “armor-plated” salmon in what is being hailed as a massive boost to Scotland’s multi-million pound angling and fish farming industries.

For the first time, thousands of young salmon — smolts — harvested from the wild but then reared in fish pens are being doused with a chemical treatment that prevents them being attacked by harmful sea lice at the start of their journey to the open ocean.

A three-year experiment has found that as a result of the treatment, more mature fish are returning to their home Scottish rivers in a significant boost to the local economy. Rod catches on the River Lochy, near Fort William, have risen by 10 percent — an extra 400 fish — an indicator that greater numbers of salmon are returning. On the Carron, in Wester Ross, another river hit by declining numbers, stocks are said to have staged a “phenomenal recovery.”

Up to 100,000 treated smolts are now to be released over the next three years to build on the success of the trial. A successful outcome will help to remove one of the major barriers to expansion of the fish farming industry on the west coast. Growth of the industry which brings jobs and money into remote rural locations has been severely hampered by evidence that sea lice infestation of farmed salmon in west coast lochs and rivers has damaged wild stocks. 

Click here to read the full story from The Scotsman >

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