Scottish aquaculture is a growing and increasingly important industry which helps to underpin sustainable economic growth in rural and coastal communities, especially in the Highlands and Islands. The Scottish Government supports the aquaculture industry's aspirations to grow the sector sustainably. This includes support and development of traditional aquaculture sectors, as well as possible diversification into other species, such as seaweed cultivation.
This also includes the cultivation of seaweed as a single species and the development of Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture ( IMTA) where a number of different species, such as fish, shellfish and seaweed, are grown at one site and the by-products from one are recycled to become inputs for another.
The objective of this consultation is to seek comments on the Scottish Government's consideration of the possible different consenting regimes for seaweed cultivation. It also seeks views on a number of related issues including the regulation of wild seaweed harvesting, and the future diversification of cultivated species.
Policy summary and purpose
The finalisation of the Seaweed Policy Statement ( SPS) resulting from this consultation should facilitate the growth of the industry by setting out the Scottish Government's policy on the suitability of seaweed cultivation in different scenarios. It will also explore the most suitable regime for licensing seaweed cultivation and indicate the issues considered in determining whether a proposal is acceptable, such as the species to be cultivated, and the scale of development planned.
The SPS will therefore provide those wanting to operate in this sector with a better understanding of the type of development that may be given approval. The overall benefit will be to provide greater certainty for the industry, while ensuring that activities which may have an environmental impact are understood and mitigated.
National Marine Plan
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a draft of Scotland's first National Marine Plan ( NMP), (the consultation closes on 13 November 2013). This will implement the planning provisions in the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, setting out priorities regarding how marine resources should be utilised in coming years, and bringing greater clarity to decision-making in the marine environment. This will allow marine users to consider industry developments within the context of national priorities, and alongside other users. The SPS will be used to inform the NMP, Regional Marine Plans, more detailed marine spatial work, and related locational guidance.
This document has been prepared in consultation with various public bodies with an interest in seaweed cultivation and harvesting, including Food Standards Agency in Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland, and The Crown Estate.
Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA) Environmental Report
As the SPS has the potential to give rise to both significant adverse and beneficial environmental effects, Section 5(4) of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires a related SEA Environmental Report to be undertaken. The draft policy statement has been informed by, and taken forward with, work undertaken to develop the SEA Environmental Report, produced by the Scottish Government Environmental Assessment Team. A concurrent consultation on that document is also taking place, and can be found on the Scottish Government consultation page:
All proposed policy changes, whether European or domestic, which may have an impact upon business or the third sector are accompanied by a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA), and a partial BRIA is included in this consultation. The BRIA helps policy makers to use available evidence to find proposals that best achieve the policy objectives while minimising costs and burdens. Through consultation and engagement with business, the costs and benefits of the proposed legislation can be analysed. It also ensures that any impact on business, particularly small enterprises, is fully considered before regulations are made.
Who will be interested in this consultation?
This proposed policy statement will inform all those who have an interest in seaweed cultivation and harvesting in Scotland, including regulators and seaweed farmers.
When is the closing date for responses?
Consultation responses should be submitted no later than 17 November 2013. It is important that a Respondent Information Form is submitted with consultation responses, so that we can treat responses appropriately.
Please send your completed Response Form and Respondent Information Form (see "Handling your Response" below) to : firstname.lastname@example.org
or 1B-North, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.
If you have any queries contact Fiona Watt on 0131 244 6418. Please clearly indicate in your response which questions or parts of the consultation paper you are responding to as this will aid our analysis of the responses received.
This consultation, and all other Scottish Government consultation exercises, can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Government website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations.
The Scottish Government now has an email alert system for consultations (SEconsult: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/seconsult.aspx). This system allows stakeholder individuals and organisations to register and receive a weekly email containing details of all new consultations (including web links). SEconsult complements, but in no way replaces SG distribution lists, and is designed to allow stakeholders to keep up to date with all SG consultation activity, and therefore to be alerted at the earliest opportunity to those of most interest. We would encourage you to register.
Handling your response
We need to know how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to be made public. Please complete and return both the Response Form and the Respondent Information Form at the end of this document as this will ensure that we treat your response appropriately. If you ask for your response not to be published we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly. All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.
Will consultation responses be published?
We will provide a link to consultation responses (which are not marked as confidential) on the Scottish Government website within two weeks of the conclusion of the consultation. You will also be able to make arrangements to view responses by contacting the Scottish Government Library on 0131 244 4552. Responses can be copied and sent to you, but a charge may be made for this service.
Will an analysis of consultation responses be published?
The responses will be systematically analysed and reported, and key messages from the various stakeholder groups will be highlighted. A report and summary of findings will be published as soon as possible after the end of the consultation period.
What happens after the consultation?
We will analyse all views expressed in the consultation exercise. The Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act will come into force in September 2013.
Comments and complaints
If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to:
Fiona Watt, 1B-North, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ
Telephone 0131 244 6418