Policy actions  1 of 3

Fish farm consents

Scotland has a robust legislative and regulatory framework in place which provides the right balance between developing the fish farming sector and protecting the environment on which the sector depends. All farms must meet strict guidelines to ensure that the environmental effects are assessed and managed safely.

Planning permission

Since 1 April 2007 all new fish and shellfish farm development in Scotland has required planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act from the relevant Planning Authority.

There are some changes, called Permitted Development Rights, you can make to your fish farm that don’t need planning permission, as long as you meet certain conditions.

More information on fish farm planning permissions

Authorisation and legislation

To apply to have your fish or shellfish business authorised, you need to complete the Application for authorisation of an Aquaculture Production Business form and the Aquatic animal holding site details form. These forms and guidance can be found in the authorisation and registration collection.

If you have any questions please contact the Duty Inspector by either calling 0131 244 3498 or emailing ms.fishhealth@gov.scot

Guidance and support

Alongside the support that each regulator offers to applicants, additional guidance has been developed to support both the aquaculture industry and decision makers.

Fuind out more: fish farm consents guidance and support.

Marine licence

Before you install marine farm equipment, you will need a marine licence from Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT). Find out more: marine and fisheries licensing.

Crown Estate lease

The Crown Estate owns and manages practically the entire seabed around the UK out to a distance of 12 nautical miles. Anyone who develops or operates in UK territorial waters is doing so on Crown Estate property. Because of this, you have to apply for a lease from The Crown Estate and pay rent to install and operate your farm on the seabed.

Before you apply it is recommended you contact Crown Estate Scotland and ask for a 'conflict check' to make sure there are no other seabed interests present in your selected area.

If the seabed area is free of any conflicting developments or interests, you may apply with a Scottish fish farm application form. Application forms and related guidance relating to leasing to farm finfish or shellfish are on the Crown Estate Scotland website. 

Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) licence

Waste from fish farms (such as faeces and chemicals) can collect on the seabed under fish cages. To make sure this does not cause too much damage to the environment, you are legally required to apply for a Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) licence, which can be withdrawn if you fail to meet water control standards. These standards are enforced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), which sets site-specific limits on the amount of fish held and the amount of medicines and chemicals that can be used. A CAR licence is not required for shellfish.

Environmental impacts

Scotland has a robust legislative and regulatory framework in place which provides the right balance between growing the fish farming sector and protecting the pristine environment on which the sector depends. All farms must meet strict guidelines to ensure that the environmental impacts are assessed and managed safely.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a systematic means of assessing the likely significant environmental effects arising from a proposed development.

Find out more: fish farm environmental impacts.

Independent Consenting Review

View a table showing progress on recommendations from the Independent Consenting Review.