Fears have been raised over contamination of fish stocks amid calls for a review of industrial salmon farming in Scotland following the sinking of a fishing vessel in the Sound of Mull.

On Thursday 4 July a 15-metre boat called the Julie Anne sank to the 20-metre deep seabed at the Fiunary fish farm. No one was aboard the vessel at the time of sinking which occurred around 8 am.

It happened only minutes after a member of the public reported the Julie Anne was listing – a nautical term used to describe when a vessel takes on water and tilts to one side. The vessel remains submerged. 

UPDATE: Fuel clean up underway after fishing vessel sinks in Scotland​ 

Following the sinking green industrialist and campaigner, Dale Vince, has called for a comprehensive reassessment of open-net industrial salmon farming amid claims that the Julie Anne is leaking fuel into a Marine Protected Area.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) reported that the fuel leakage was ‘contained’, however Vince claims eyewitness footage and drone images show fuel escaping containment booms and spreading into the surrounding protected waters.

The Julie Anne is now at the 20 metre deep seabed at the Fiunary fish farm in the Sound of Mull The Julie Anne is now at the 20 metre deep seabed at the Fiunary fish farm in the Sound of Mull (Image: SSF)

He says the spillage is of considerable concern, with thousands of salmon in pens nearby destined for the food chain

Mr Vince, who is Founder of Ecotricity and leader of the Green Britain Group says the incident also raises broader questions about the sustainability and safety of open-net salmon farming.

He said: "The fuel spill in a Marine Protected Area near Fiunary isn't just an isolated incident – it's a glaring symptom of the fundamental flaws in open-net salmon farming.

"This industry is wreaking havoc on precious marine habitats, and it's high time we face this head-on. The current practices are simply unsustainable and unacceptable. What's more, the fact that polluted fish may end up on consumers' plates is deeply troubling. We're at a crossroads – we can either continue to degrade our coastal waters and compromise food safety or take bold action to revolutionise our approach to salmon farming and marine stewardship.


“This isn't just about one company or one incident: it's about the future of our oceans, our food systems, and our commitment to environmental and public health protection. We need to critically examine industrial salmon farming and make radical changes to ensure the preservation of our marine ecosystems and the safety of our food supply.

“The choice is clear – innovate or face the consequences of continued ecological damage and potential health risks."

Footage sent to The Herald by Mr Vince shows what appears to be dead fish and streaks of fuel in an area of water close to fishing nets.

The vessel, which was supplied to Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) by Macduff Shipyards in 2015, still remains on the seabed. However an SSF official told The Herald that it will be raised within a week of the sinking, and a number of precautions have been taken to limit any environmental damage from the spill.

A still shot of footage captured by Dale Vince near the site where the Julie Anne sank.A still shot of footage captured by Dale Vince near the site where the Julie Anne sank. (Image: Dale Vince/Ecotricity)

SSF head of health and safety Gerry McCormick said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for their advice, guidance and support.

“Our immediate priority, with the assistance of specialist divers and environmental services, has been to check for any potential fuel leaks, seal any areas found to be releasing small quantities of fuel, and re-check these multiple times daily. As an added precaution, we have also deployed oil booms around the incident area.

“Our collective focus now is on removing the fuel and re-floating the vessel – a first for Scottish Sea Farms in close to 25 years of farming – which we hope to have done within the week, after which we will carry out a full and thorough inspection.”

As the situation continues Dale Vince says the incident raises crucial questions about the industry's impact on marine environments, food safety, and the urgent need for more sustainable aquaculture practices.

The campaigner highlighted recent policy changes in Canada, where the government has decided to phase out open-net salmon farming in British Columbia, as an example of growing recognition of the need to protect marine environments from the impacts of the industry.

He suggests this incident should prompt a similar reassessment of open-net salmon farming practices in Scottish waters and beyond.

SEPA and the the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been contacted for further comment.