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Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill - Consultation Document

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SECTION 6: PAYING FOR PROGRESS

138. Many of the issues set out in this consultation paper, and indeed much ongoing activity (such as scientific research and analysis, inspection and enforcement regimes etc) necessary to ensure sustainable operations, developments and improvements in aquaculture and all fisheries, require substantial and increasing resources.

139. We recognise that stakeholders in the respective sectors may contribute to necessary work, whether directly or indirectly, in a number of ways: and that their ability to do so differs. Nonetheless, related public sector costs and contributions are substantial, with increasing demands for additional work/resources at a time when public sector budgets are being severely reduced. In many cases, work and/or 'services' which provide direct benefits to individual businesses, or to a particular sector, are provided by the public sector free of charge or at less than full resource cost. The budgets for these services have been largely protected but we expect they will need to rise in order to comply with ongoing regulatory requirements and the demands of growing marine industry sectors.

140. This is not a sustainable position. We need to review our approach to cost sharing and recovery, so that those who benefit from particular work and services pay a fair share of the costs: and in line with wider public sector finance policy and the 'beneficiary pays' principle. But in return we recognise that we would require to deliver an appropriate standard of service to those individuals and businesses subject to any charge.

141. The rationale and detailed arrangements for charges need to be considered and justified on a case by case basis. However, we consider it would be sensible to make enabling provisions in legislation for a) direct charges for services from which individuals/businesses gain a direct benefit; and b)within the scope of devolved powers,more generic charges which might be applied at a broader (sectoral) level, reflecting the more generic benefits to a group or sector arising from public sector expenditure and resource commitment.

Q Do you agree that there should be enabling provisions for Scottish Ministers to provide, through secondary legislation, for both direct and more generic charges for services/benefits arising from public sector services and activities?

Q If you do not agree that there should be charging provisions, how do you envisage ongoing and new work to assist in management and development of the aquaculture and fisheries sectors should be resourced?

Q If no new way of resourcing such activity can be found, what activities do you suggest might be stopped to free up necessary funds?