The application for bigger cages at Etive 3 will also bring with a greater risk of escapes of farmed fish.
Although Dawnfresh states that “the risk of an escape event is greatly reduced by upgrading and standardising equipment used within Loch Etive, which is a positive impact with this proposed development”, it should be noted that in April 2015, from the same standardised equipment, over 2,000 farmed fish escaped from Dawnfresh’s farm at Etive 4. 2,091 farmed fish, averaging 9.5 lbs each, escaped through ‘a hole in the net’. Dawnfresh was only able to ascertain how many fish were lost following the harvesting of the remaining fish from the Etive 4 site.
Therefore, there is no guarantee that standardisation of equipment will reduce escapes and indeed, it appears that recent escapes have not been prevented by standardised equipment. Larger 80m cages, by definition, have a greater surface area of net below the waterline which is subject to possible breach than the currently permitted 60m cages.