Thousands of salmon escaped and died after a fish farm broke free of its moorings west of Arran.

The North Carradale farm, made up ten pens, was damaged during Storm Ellen last Thursday, August 20.

The fish, which can be identified due to their deformities, should be killed if caught to help prevent damage to the wild salmon population.

The farm's owners, Mowi, said divers inspected the pens and found that mooring ropes had broken and caused the cages to drift.

The company said 48,834 salmon escaped, 30,616 died and a further 125,000 were harvested.

Four of the ten pens were found to be compromised.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: One of the broken ropes from the Carradale North mooring system. Credit: MowiOne of the broken ropes from the Carradale North mooring system. Credit: Mowi

Two of them had torn netting and Mowi said they have sent a sample of the rope to be tested.

Fisheries Management Scotland, the representative body for Scotland’s District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fisheries Trusts, said: "We are working with our members, Marine Scotland and Mowi to finalise a monitoring and mitigation plan in an attempt to minimise the number of farmed fish entering the rivers draining into the Firth of Clyde."

READ MORE: Thousands of deformed escapee salmon could be in any Ayrshire river

Anglers across Ayrshire have been warned to report any obviously farmed salmon.

The farmed fish are identifiable because of deformed or shortened features such as their fins, gill covers and snouts.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Grogport beach. Credit: Katie RobertsonGrogport beach. Credit: Katie Robertson

Their pigmentation can be heavier with more spots than are usual on wild salmon.

The farmed fish can have a devastating impact on the wild population and the reported escape has caused frustration among anglers.

Ayrshire Rivers Trust said: "If you are certain you've caught an escaped farmed salmon in an Ayrshire River, then the right thing to do is to kill it, photograph it, report it to the fish Health Inspectorate and the local DSFB and Trust, in the absence of a DSFB, then let the Trust know as we will be putting together a response on behalf of all Ayrshire rivers.

"If you can take scale samples from between the lateral line and dorsal fin, wrap them in kitchen roll and send them to us with details of where and when captured and supply us an image too please."

A beach in Argyll was reportedly awash with the dead fish, and there have been reported sightings on the coast of Arran too.

Dr Alan Wells, Chief Executive of Fisheries Management Scotland, said: “In Norway, interbreeding between wild and escaped farmed fish is considered the greatest threat to wild Atlantic salmon and it is important that all avenues are explored to mitigate impacts on wild salmon arising from this event. We will be working with Mowi Scotland and Marine Scotland to ensure that this occurs. In the longer-term we must learn the lessons required to ensure that it is not repeated in future.

A statement from Mowi said: "There have been local reports of the salmon being predated upon by seals and other wildlife, and being caught by anglers. The salmon raised at the Carradale North farm are healthy, with some having already been processed for market.

"The company continues to engage with local and national wild fisheries groups to monitor and assess the presence or absence of salmonid genetic introgression."

If anglers catch suspected farmed fish they should alert Marine Scotland’s duty inspector mailbox at