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A Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture

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A Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture

Part One Introduction

1.1 This Strategic Framework document has been developed by the Ministerial Working Group for Aquaculture. The Group was set up following a series of preliminary bilateral meetings with stakeholder interests chaired by the Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development at the Scottish Executive, or one of his senior officials, throughout the first half of 2002. It comprised a wide range of stakeholders in the aquaculture industry in Scotland. (See Appendix 1.) It accomplished its task in part through subgroup working, but also met six times in plenary session between June and November 2002 under the chairmanship of the Minister or, again, one of his officials, and then once more, on 17 February 2003, following wider consultation on the draft proposals in the period from December 2002 to February 2003. The central and local government, other public body/regulatory, private sector, wild fisheries and NGO representatives on the Group all have a direct interest in the Strategic Framework's objectives and have all contributed to their formulation.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

1.2 The EU Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (1) came into force in July 2001 and will be implemented in the UK by July 2004. As a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of programmes and plans, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is widely accepted as a valuable means of integrating environmental information into decision-making.

1.3 While it did not directly influence the preparation of this Strategic Framework document, the Directive will impact in due course on the delivery of at least some of the actions listed in Appendix 3. Some of these will constitute plans and programmes in terms of the Directive, and its requirements will need to be observed in undertaking them. The Directive will help to achieve sustainable development through its promotion of integrated environment and development decision-making, through the design of environmentally sustainable policies and in consideration of the best practicable environmental options.

The Vision

1.4 Our shared vision is that:

Scotland will have a sustainable, diverse, competitive and economically viable aquaculture industry, of which its people can be justifiably proud. It will deliver high quality, healthy food to consumers at home and abroad, and social and economic benefits to communities, particularly in rural and remote areas. It will operate responsibly, working within the carrying capacity of the environment, both locally and nationally and throughout its supply chain.

The guiding principles

1.5 The Scottish Executive has publicly committed to sustainable development, which, balancing economic progress with social justice and environmental responsibility, is a central element of the Programme for Government whose key role was reaffirmed in the Scottish Parliament on 9 January 2002. Sustainability is therefore the overarching guiding principle for our vision for aquaculture in Scotland and in preparing this document we have had regard to its economic, environmental, social and good governance or stewardship aspects, each of which is reflected in the guiding principles below and in our consideration of the issues in Part Two.

1.6 The definition of sustainability we have employed here is that developed in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development:

Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (2).

The economic principle

1.7 Aquaculture should be enabled to make a positive contribution to the Scottish economy through being internationally competitive in the marketplace and economically viable at a national level.

The environmental principle

1.8 The industry should work in harmony with nature, managing and minimising transient environmental impacts, and avoiding significant, cumulative, long-term or irreversible changes to ecological systems, to cultural remains or to valued landscape and scenery.

The social principle

1.9 Aquaculture should foster strong community links, recognising and supporting the needs of local communities and working with community initiatives to manage local environments for mutual benefit. It must be integrated within its community, liaising locally and nationally on all appropriate matters.

The principle of stewardship

1.10 While the first three principles relate to outcomes, the principle of stewardship relates to the ways in which these principles will be observed. It is about delivering outcomes sustainably. It embraces the precepts of transparency, integration, co-ordinated government and fit-for-purpose regulation, partnership and stakeholder participation, accountability, ethics and regard for animal welfare, and a culture of best practice and continuous improvement. This both reflects and develops the concept of stewardship set out in the Government's first Marine Stewardship Report (3).