The owner of the farm from which thousands of salmon escaped is funding a study into how it will impact on the wild population.

In August, Mowi Scotland confirmed 48,834 farm-raised fish escaped from its facility off the coast of Arran. The salmon, which are identifiable by deformities, have since been found across Ayrshire.

Last month, it was reported that anglers in Girvan caught 30 of the escapees, with 16 in a single mile stretch.

Fisheries Management Scotland previously warned anglers to kill any suspected farmed salmon they caught and send scale samples to them.

The study, launched in response to the mass escape, will be managed by FMS and supported by Government scientists.

The multi-year study of 115 sites aims to confirm wild salmon’s current genetic profile and to track for the potential of genetic changes should interbreeding of farmed and wild salmon occur.

Ben Hadfield, COO of Mowi Scotland said: “I would like to thank Fisheries Management Scotland and their member District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fisheries Trusts for their efforts to remove these fish from rivers across the Firth of Clyde, and apologise for any disruption and concern this escape has caused.

“We have learned the root cause of the escape

and acknowledge our responsibility to quickly learn from this event to prevent it from occurring again.”

Don Staniford, a campaigner against fish farms, said: “The science is already in – escapes from farms kill wild salmon.

“The Royal Society of London reported back in 2003 that mass escapes precipitate an ‘extinction vortex’. Instead of more research, Mowi should be fined and have their licence to operate rescinded.”