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A Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture

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A Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture

Appendix 2: The regulatory framework

The main regulatory and advisory bodies involved in aquaculture are:

  • the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD);

  • the Crown Estate;

  • local authorities;

  • the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA); and

  • Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

SEERAD is responsible for statutory measures under the Diseases of Fish Acts 1937 and 1983 and the related EC fish health legislation to prevent the introduction and spread of serious pests and diseases of fish and shellfish which may affect farmed and wild stocks. All marine fish farms must be registered with the Department for disease control purposes. Certain diseases must be notified to the Department and formal procedures exist for the treatment and disposal of infected stock.

SEERAD's Fisheries Research Services carries out a wide range of basic marine fish farm research and offers advice on aspects of production and disease control. SEERAD also has wider responsibilities in relation to the protection of fish, fisheries and the marine environment. It advises the Crown Estate on the implications for disease control, existing fishing interests and the inshore marine environment of applications for marine fish farm leases, and is consulted by SEPA on discharge consent applications.

The Crown Estate is responsible for the management of the territorial seabed and most of the foreshore between high and low water mark. Anyone wishing to establish a marine fish farm must apply to it for a lease of the seabed, and foreshore where appropriate, within which the marine fish farm will operate.

Following a review of these arrangements, and public consultation, it was concluded that the Crown Estate's role in authorising marine developments should be reassigned to local authorities and planning controls are being extended into marine waters by the Water Environment and Water Services Act 2003. Meanwhile, local authorities have the lead role in advising the Crown Estate on marine fish farm proposals under interim administrative arrangements.

Different planning arrangements apply in Shetland and Orkney. In Shetland, under the Zetland County Council Act 1974, the Council has powers to licence works in coastal waters, which it exercises in conjunction with its powers as planning authority. Under these powers, the Council has developed policies for the development and regulation of salmon and shellfish farming. Under the Orkney County Council Act 1974, the Council exercises works licensing powers within certain designated harbour areas. In the event that a works licence is granted, the applicant must also apply to the Crown Estate for a lease in the usual manner.

SEPA has a duty to promote the cleanliness of Scotland's tidal waters and to conserve, so far as practicable, its water resources, balancing socio-economic elements. It is also required to promote the conservation of flora and fauna dependent on the aquatic environment. This includes safeguarding water quality and the condition of the seabed in the vicinity of fish farms. Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, SEPA consent is required for the discharge of effluent from marine fish farms to coastal waters. SEPA is responsible for ensuring that appropriate monitoring of the aquatic environment is undertaken, and this is achieved by applying specific consent conditions and by its own audit monitoring.

Scottish Natural Heritage is responsible for advising Government on securing the conservation and enhancement of the natural heritage _ wildlife, habitats and landscapes _ for promoting its sustainable use, and for fostering its understanding and enjoyment by the public. When consulted on aquaculture applications, SNH takes into account proposed developments' proximity to, and potential impact on, wildlife, habitats and landscape.

Additionally, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate; the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products; the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive; and the Food Standards Agency all play a role in regulating the aquaculture industry:

  • The Veterinary Medicines Directorate is an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs protecting public health, animal health and the environment, and promoting animal welfare by assuring the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines in the United Kingdom.

  • The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) co-ordinates the existing scientific resources of the Member States in order to evaluate and supervise medicinal products for both human and veterinary use throughout the whole of the European Union. The EMEA network of partners includes the general public and the users of medicines, the pharmaceutical industry, health care professionals and international partners.

  • The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) aims to develop, promote and enforce high standards of maritime safety and pollution prevention, to minimise loss of life amongst seafarers and coastal users, and to minimise pollution from ships to sea and the coastline.

  • The UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are responsible for the regulation of almost all the risks to health and safety arising from work activity in Britain.

  • The Food Standards Agency is an independent food safety watchdog set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food.