Jellyfish attack wipes out salmon farm

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Posted by on November 22, 2007 at 08:02:51:

In Reply to: Jellyfish Kill 100K Salmon in N.Ireland posted by on November 22, 2007 at 07:40:21:

The only salmon farm in Northern Ireland has been thrown into crisis following a devastating jellyfish attack that destroyed more than 100,000 fish.

Billions of small mauve stingers flooded the cages where the fish were kept about a mile into the Irish Sea, off the Co Antrim coast, causing more than 1 million of damage and leaving the future of the company in doubt.

ohn Russell, the managing director of Northern Salmon Co. Ltd., said last night: "In 30 years, I've never seen anything like it. It was unprecedented, absolutely amazing. The sea was red with these jelly fish and there was nothing we could do about, it, absolutely nothing."

Last week's attack lasted nearly seven hours, with the small jellyfish stinging and shocking salmon held in an area covering 10 square miles and 35 feet deep.

Workers in three boats tried to reach the cages to rescue the salmon, but the extreme density of jellyfish slowed their progress through the water, and by the time they reached the cages it was too late.

The species of jellyfish responsible, Pelagia nocticula popularly known as the mauve stinger is noted for its purplish nighttime glow and for stinging swimmers in the warmer Mediterranean Sea.

Until the past decade the mauve stinger was rarely spotted in British waters, and scientists cite its migration north as evidence of global warming.

Northern Salmon sells to some of London's top restaurants and exports to restaurants in France, Belgium, Germany and the US. Irish chef Richard Corrigan served Glenarm salmon to the Queen on her 80th birthday last year.

Mr Russell, who previously worked at Scottish salmon farms and took over as Northern Salmon's new MD just three days before the attack, said the company faces likely closure unless it receives emergency government aid.

Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture has carried out a full investigation of the attack and agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew is working to try to rescue the farm and save the jobs of 12 staff members.

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