Thousands of Atlantic salmon have escaped into the Pacific after a net pen holding 305,000 of the fish was damaged.

The fish farm in Washington State is blaming the mass breakout on a ‘structural failure’. Wildlife officials are calling for anglers to catch as many of the fish as possible.

The fish farm company is blaming the incident on “exceptionally high tides and currents coinciding with this week’s solar eclipse”.

Initially the company told wildlife officials that 4000-5000 of the fish had escaped, but they will be able to give a better estimation once the tides have returned to normal and they can send divers in to assess the damage.

The company released a statement saying: “Farm crews are on site, working to stabilize the farm and to recover as many fish as possible, when conditions permit.”

Fisherman who are out trying to catch the regional Chinook salmon are reporting that the non-native Atlantic salmon are already turning up in their nets. They range from eight to 10lb and there are no restrictions on catching them.

Environmentalists are concerned that fish could crossbreed or compete with one another for food.

Thousands of salmon escape from fish farm into the Pacific