How to identify a farmed fish and what to do if I catch one?

We are sadly seeing an increasing number of farmed salmon being caught or seen in our system. Whilst numbers of confirmed salmon fish are currently relatively low it is critical that anglers are aware of how to identify such fish and of the actions required should you land a suspected farmed fish.

Actions required should you catch a suspected farmed fish

As a reminder you are requested to take the following important actions should you believe that you have landed a farmed fish:

Official Advice

  1. Inform immediately the LLAIA or LLFT (since we don’t have a District Salmon Fishery Board (DSFB).

  2. Photo to be taken and scale samples, we need to know where and when caught, method and approx. weight.

  3. Fish to be immediately humanely dispatched and not returned to the water.

  4. Online form at FMS to be completed and Fish Health Inspectorate informed ( If anglers give us the info we will do those steps for them).

  5. Fish is not to be kept or eaten!! (That’s the official advice for any farm fish)

  6. This only applies to farmed fish, anybody dispatching a wild fish, must only do so within rules of the L.L.A.I.A, they may be subject to prosecution under fishery law with regards retaining of wild fish.

  7. Scales should be stored in paper packaging (e.g. wrapped in kitchen roll or in a paper envelope). It is important that scales are not stored in plastic nor dried on a direct heat source.

    The L.L.A.I.A will provide scale envelopes and we will distribute these to bailiffs, VOLDAC . So as soon as a farm fish is caught please get immediately in touch with ourselves or the LLFT and we can arrange collection of the scale samples plus a photograph where at all possible.

The above advice and steps relate to the capture of any farmed fish not just the Carradale North incident.

Identification of a farmed salmon

Below is a link to a video from the “Ayrshire Rivers Trust” illustrating how to identify a farmed versus wild fish and also how and where to take required scale sample should you believe that you have captured a farmed fish.

Video :

The diagram below shows the area that any scale samples must be taken from:

To further aid the identification of farmed fish then below is a link to an illustrated leaflet from Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS).

Example – Result of recent scale examination

Source : Ayrshire Rivers Trust : The uniform growth associated with farmed fish is seen in this scale and there’s virtually no indication of any change in growth rate following the fry year (top left of image). Consequently we are confident this was indeed a farmed salmon.