Fish story: the 35,000 that got away

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Every fisherman has a tall tale but few will ever be able to brag about the 35,000 big ones that got away.

A fish farmer in Australia's tropical Northern Territory lost an estimated 100 tonnes of prized barramundi this week when steel chains holding a sea cage off Bathurst Island snapped in an unusually strong tide, spilling the fish into the open sea. Marine Harvest, the Northern Territory's largest barramundi producer, estimated the value of its lost catch of 35,000 fish at A$500,000.

Local fishermen quickly pounced on the company's misfortune.

"They were waving to us, they had lots of smiles, and I saw a couple hold up some fish with great glee," Marine Harvest managing director Craig Foster told ABC radio.

Barramundi are perch-like fish native to Australia's tropical north and are highly prized by diners for their delicate white flesh. They also provide spectacular fishing, often leaping out of the water to avoid capture.