The Scottish Government has a vision of a clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment, managed to meet the long-term needs of nature and people. This involves managing our seas sustainably to protect their rich biological diversity, and to ensure that our marine ecosystems continue to provide economic, social and wider benefits for people, industry and society.
The sustainable development of the aquaculture sector in our coastal waters is significant to Scotland's economy and provides economic and social benefit to Scotland's people. Ensuring that any impacts on Scotland's wildlife, including our iconic marine mammals, are properly managed and safeguarded for future generations are also equally important to achieving our vision. I therefore welcome the requirement under the Animals and Wildlife (Protection, Penalties and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020 to report to Parliament on the use of acoustic deterrent devices by the Scottish aquaculture sector and the opportunity it offers to inform the best way forward regarding their future use.
In looking at the use of acoustic deterrent devices by the sector, specifically the underpinning evidence base for potential impacts on marine mammals, and how these devices are currently used, regulated and monitored, it is evident that further work is required. This report identifies a number of conclusions that require focus and action in the coming months, in order to achieve our collective vision for a 'safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.'
However, the Scottish Government cannot do this alone. Progress can only be made by collaboratively working with others. Through this report, the Scottish Government is committed to working in close partnership with the aquaculture sector and other stakeholders across Scotland and beyond, bringing together the necessary expertise and knowledge to take forward these conclusions and deliver tangible progress to ensure the protection of our iconic marine wildlife, alongside the sustainable growth of important marine sectors.
I look forward to further progress as we deliver the outcomes of this report.
Ben Macpherson MSP
Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment