A Wellboat Technical Standards Working Group was established in 2013 as part of the restructured Ministerial Group for Sustainable Aquaculture (MGSA) to inform development of an appropriate and proportionate regulatory framework to underpin current and developing best practice for Wellboats operating in Scotland.
The Group is Chaired by Professor Jimmy Turnbull of The Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, with membership including:
- Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation
- Salmon farming companies
- Code of Good Practice Management Group
- RSPCA/Freedom Foods
- Senior fish health professionals
- the three main Norwegian wellboat operators
- Scotland-based wellboat operators
- Marine Scotland
The Chair presented Conclusions and Recommendations to MGSA on 17 November 2014:
1. Equipment to monitor boat location and valve status
- All marine vessels moving live and dead fish outwith a fish farm site should have the capacity to log and record their position and the status of their valves (i.e. taking on or discharging water). These data should be made available in real time and retrospectively to farm customers and others with a legitimate reason for access e.g. other wellboat operators.
- The exact criteria for access to the data will be formulated through the Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture (CoGP). Compliance will be monitored through the CoGP and the Freedom Food (FF) standards. However, the working group reserve the option to reconvene to consider regulation if there is abuse or contravention of the CoGP or FF standards.
2. Discharge of potentially infected water.
The industry aspires to avoid discharging any potentially infected water from wellboat. Our recommendations are phased to achieve maximum practical reduction of risk in the shortest timeframe.
- All water from dead-haul of fish to processing plants should be treated on-shore, this should be implemented as soon as possible.
- All post-harvest water should be filtered prior to discharge. This might either be done on-shore or on the vessel.
- The industry aspires to filter all water prior to discharge into the sea.The practices that pose the greatest biosecurity risk should be prioritised; for example, water from treatment in wellboats is high risk whereas water from smolt transportation is low risk.
- Areas where water loading and discharge are permitted should continue to be monitored and updated through the CoGP. Progress and compliance should be monitored through the CoGP and the Freedom Food standards.
3. R&D on filtration and lice removal systems.
- Filtration of wellboat transport water will be proposed as a priority for the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre.
4. Infrastructure for port and dock facilities.
- Discussion by industrial stakeholders is underway.
At this stage this working group has served its function and does not need to meet again, however, the members should be given sight of and the option to comment on proposed changes to the CoGP and Freedom Food Standards.