Jellyfish wreak havoc on Loch Duart salmon farm
A jellyfish shoal in northern Scotland killed thousands of young farmed salmon reared by Loch Duart in late November, the company revealed on Monday.
The jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca) arrived at the company’s Hebridean sites in Loch Maddy on 19 November and destroyed 300,000 fish. While being described as a “terrible blow,” the company’s future is not in jeopardy.
“By the purest of coincidences, I had scheduled a visit to the site on the 21st, to see the fish that everyone in the company was raving about. Growth and all the health parameters were the best. When I arrived on site it was clear that the team were very concerned,” said Managing Director Nick Joy.
“On getting to the pens, it was clear that a serious event had occurred. The fish looked very distressed and were shoaling poorly and slowly. It was also clear that some had died though at this stage, not a significant number. My immediate view was that though the fish had been sorely tried, the majority of them would survive as long as the weather gave them some peace to rest.”
The small jellyfish, about the size and shape of a gooseberry with brown stinging filaments attached, were small enough to pass through the nets to sting the fish. Because there is little or no warning that these jellyfish are in the area there is little or no protection that can be afforded.
“We live, work and farm in a hostile environment,” the company stated, illustrating the challenges of farming in a wild environment. “Agriculture has been around for a long time and has worked out how to deal with most of the major challenges that face it. Aquaculture is new.”