New data has revealed that a shocking 210,000 fish died at a single farm on Mull in the month of July alone. 

These are the dead fish I saw at Geasgill farm in early August. It confirms what we observed when I visited the site, run by Faroes-based company Bakkafrost, with activist Don Staniford in early August, following a local tip-off.

Nets full of dead fish were being pulled from the farm’s pens. Skips were piled full with morts. 

What was clear from observation was that a mass mortality event was in progress at Geasgill and these figures back that up. What we observed at the site was the seventh worst mortality event in Scottish salmon farm history - though further mortalities from August could make it even bigger. 

The worst mortality event in Scottish salmon farm history was at Bakkafrost's Druimyeon site in 2021, which had a mortality of 82.1%, amounting to a mass of around twice that which has so far been seen at Geasgill.

But Geasgill, whose mortality rate for July was 23.7%, is not the only Bakkafrost farm struggling with mortalities this year. Bakkafrost's CEO told me that two other farms had been impacted by microjellyfish. One of these was Gravir Outer on Lewis which suffered mortalities of 22.6% in July. 

The company has also reduced its revenue forecasts for the year.

Nor is Bakkafrost the only company to do so. Norwegian-owned Scottish Sea Farms also reduced its estimated harvest volume for 2023 by more than a quarter, as a result of "biological problems". 


Salmon Scotland's latest mortality report shows that mortality rates continue to be higher than last year's record year - with a rate of 2.49% across all farms in July compared with 1.63% for the same month last year.

Latest Fish Health Inspectorate data has revealed that while, over the course of July, Geasgill did not experience the loss of the greatest number of fish - some other sites lost more, much smaller fish -  it was the site of the biggest mass of mortalities. The 210,000 fish amounted to around 546 tonnes of salmon.

In 2019, Bakkafrost bought up The Scottish Salmon Company whose sites continue to be among the worst in Scotland – with, between September 2021 and September 2022 the worst cumulative mortality of any salmon company. 

Its CEO Regin Jacobsen told me: "We saw that the activity in the company was heavily under-invested and we have committed ourselves to do everything possible to bring the level of activity up to the same level as we have in the Faroe islands. But it takes a lot of investment to do so. We have had a range of issues to do in Scotland. Unfortunately, it takes time to change it.

“What we see right now is mainly jellyfish which are coming in huge swarms or blooms."

READ MORE: Scottish salmon: What dead fish I saw tells us about sector

READ MORE: Why tiny jellyfish are such a big threat to salmon farming

READ MORE A Scottish salmon farm visit. Haunted by mortalities and jellyfish

Responding to the mortalities in my article on Geasgill, Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “Scotland’s salmon farmers have been open and transparent about the challenge we face due to warming seas, which is likely to have an effect on survival rates over the coming months. Like all other farmers our salmon farmers are working hard day in, day out, to provide the very best conditions for the fish in their care.

“With one of the lowest carbon footprints of any animal protein Scottish salmon can help feed a growing global population in a way that is climate-friendly."

“One thing which could make a big difference is reducing the time salmon spend at sea. Instead of two years in the ocean, ‘one summer’ salmon would cut the time it takes to grow salmon to harvest size.

“Our members are working on a number of initiatives to manage the risks posed by climate change that will ensure a positive future for the internationally important Scottish salmon sector for decades to come.”

The latest Fish Health Inspectorate data also indicates that the whole Scottish salmon farming sector, following last year’s record-breaking mortalities, may well be looking at another record-breaker.

Over 3 million fish died in the Scottish salmon farming sector in mortality events that occurred or started in July.  Whilst some of these were tiny fish in hatcheries, over 1.2 million were fish that were 750g and above. Total mortalities for the whole industry this year now stand at nearly 10 million (9,751,885).

With autumn being the season that tends to be the worst in terms of losses in the sector, it seems quite likely that total deaths will smash through the record-breaking nearly 17 million experienced in 2022.