AN exclusion zone has been set up around a sunken barge in a salmon farm after it started releasing potentially toxic gasses.

The 500m radius around the sunken vessel, which was carrying fish food, near Portree Harbour in Skye was set up amid reports of the smell of rotten eggs at the site.

The boat was in use by Faroese firm Bakkafrost when it sank in November 2021 during Storm Arwen.

The firm said hydrogen sulphide, a gas known for smelling like rotten eggs, had been detected at the site.

It said this was a consequence of the barge’s submerged cargo degrading in the water.

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Police say multi-agency discussions have looked into safely recovering the vessel.

Inspector Ross McCartney, of Portree Police Station, said: “We are aware of a leak of gas from a sunken vessel off Portree Harbour.

"Multi-agency discussions have taken place and plans are ongoing to safely recover the vessel.

“There is not considered to be any risk to the public as a result of the leak at this time.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said: “On November 27 2021, Spea was informed by The Scottish Salmon Company that the feed barge for their Loch Portree sites had sunk the previous day during a storm.

“A multi-agency group was set up in response involving Sepa, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Marine Scotland, Highland Council, and other organisations.

“Fuel and oil from the barge were safely removed by December 2021 and pose no further risk to the local water environment.”

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The Sepa spokesperson said the organisation will continue to work with its partners to ensure the waste feed within the barge is recovered or disposed of "in accordance with waste management legislation".

Bakkafrost said as part of the salvage operation gas would be vented to reduce any potential risks to the public.

It said: “All relevant authorities are being kept informed of progress on the recovery operation and we will continue to work together with experts to ensure a safe conclusion to the operation.

“Bakkafrost is fully committed to ensuring public safety in relation to all of its operations, vessels and equipment and we are addressing the removal of any gas as a priority.”