1. Marine Scotland is considering the need for new legislation on aquaculture, freshwater and sea fisheries, and is therefore currently consulting on key issues and priority areas for a possible Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill. The Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill consultation document has been published for consultation, and is available at:
2. The Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill consultation document has been subject to a strategic environmental assessment, the results of which have been set out in the Environmental Report. This document is the Non-Technical Summary of that Environmental Report.
The Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Consultation Document
3. The proposed provisions set out in the Bill consultation document cover a wide range of issues in the aquaculture, freshwater and sea fisheries sectors. These comprise:
- sustainable development of aquaculture;
- protection of shellfish growing waters;
- fish farming and wild salmonid interactions;
- improving salmon and freshwater fisheries management;
- modernising enforcement provisions;
- some minor sea fisheries legislative changes; and
Details of these proposed provisions are provided in Table 1.
The Strategic Environmental Assessment
4. The protection of shellfish growing waters, modernising enforcement provisions, the minor changes to sea fisheries legislation, and charging are considered to be the kinds of strategic action that would result in no or minimal environmental effects. The SEA has therefore focused on the potential environmental effects of the provisions proposed to effect sustainable development of aquaculture, fish farming and wild salmonid interactions, and improving salmon and freshwater fisheries management (Table 1).
5. An SEA will be undertaken to identify the potential environmental effects of seaweed cultivation and inform the preparation of a sector-specific framework. The assessment of powers to regulate seaweed cultivation through marine licensing arrangements has been deferred to that SEA, rather than undertaking it as part of the SEA of the Bill consultation document.
6. The focus of the SEA was on the potential effects of the proposed provisions on biodiversity, specifically wild salmonid populations (Atlantic salmon and sea trout). The other environmental topics were scoped out of the assessment, with the agreement of the Consultation Authorities, i.e. Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) and Historic Scotland.
Table 1. Summary of proposed provisions in Bill Consultation Document
|Proposed Provision||Scoped In/Out|
|Sustainable Development of Aquaculture|
|Powers to revoke consents||Out|
|Requirements to collect and publish site-specific sea-lice data||In|
|Provision of data on fish mortality, movements, etc|
|Powers to reduce biomass consent||In|
|Wellboats: Powers to place additional controls on discharges from wellboats||In|
|Wellboats: satellite and remote monitoring of wellboat activity||Out|
|Powers to place controls on discharges from plants processing farmed fish||In|
|Regulate seaweed cultivation through marine licensing arrangements||Out|
|Powers to control commercially damaging native species||Out|
|Protection of Shellfish Growing Areas|
|Powers to protect shellfish growing waters||Out|
|Fish Farming and Wild Salmonid Interactions|
|Powers to prescribe lower sea-lice thresholds above which measures need to be taken.||In|
|Powers to require finfish farms to use equipment that conforms to a Scottish Technical Standard||In|
|Powers to take samples of fish from fish farms for tracing purposes||Out|
|Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Management|
|Introduction of a duty on District Salmon Fishery Boards to act fairly and transparently||Out|
|Powers to give statutory backing to a sector-developed Code of Practice|
|Powers to introduce a system of statutory carcass tagging of wild salmonids||Out|
|Powers to take or require wild fish and/or samples|
|Powers to change Salmon District Annual Close Time Orders; to promote combined salmon conservation measures; to attach conditions to statutory conservation measures; and to require provision of comprehensive effort (catch) data on rod fisheries||In|
|Powers for statutory mediation and dispute resolution||Out|
|Powers to require record keeping, reporting and inspection of salmon and sea trout fisheries||Out|
|Powers to recall, restrict or exclude the jurisdiction of District Salmon Fishery Boards to license the introduction of salmonids in their District||In|
|Modernising Enforcement Provisions / Changes to Sea Fisheries Legislation|
|Application of strict liability criteria to certain offences||Out|
|Powers to extend the use of fixed financial penalties as alternatives to prosecution|
|Changes to Sea Fisheries Legislation|
|Paying for Progress|
|Powers to make provision for charging for services/benefits arising from public sector services||Out|
The Results of the SEA
7. The proposed provisions that have been scoped into the assessment would result in:
- the improved control of sea-lice and pathogens;
- improved containment of caged fish and fewer escapes; and
- improved wild salmon and freshwater fisheries management.
These would all be of benefit to wild salmonid populations, specifically Atlantic salmon and sea trout. Details are provided in the following paragraphs.
8. The proposed provisions' focus on the control of sea-lice and pathogens, while benefiting biodiversity, is not considered to have similar benefits for water quality and/or ecological status. In consequence, this topic was scoped out of the assessment with the agreement of SEPA. In addition, the continued sustainability of Atlantic salmon and sea trout is likely to have positive effects on cultural heritage. However, inclusion of this topic was not considered likely to contribute in a meaningful way to this assessment and it was therefore scoped out, with the agreement of Historic Scotland.
9. The measures relating to Farm Management Agreements would make these mandatory, building on the practices set out in the "Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture". Although the majority of fish farms currently work with Farm Management Agreements, this would result in coordination of management practices, sharing of information and appropriate delineation of boundaries. Taken together a key outcome would be the improved control of sea-lice and pathogens, thereby reducing the risk of unacceptable sea-lice burdens and the spread of disease (with a consequent reduction in the use of therapeutants). This would benefit wild salmonid populations.
10. The proposals for provision of data are intended to identify treatment/efficacy failures at an early stage and facilitate mitigation and/or remediation measures. A key outcome would be the improved control of sea-lice and pathogens, thereby benefitting wild salmonid populations.
11. The proposed powers to reduce biomass consent are intended to link licensed biomass for a site with the required volume of therapeutant, to manage sea-lice and pathogens. Improved control would benefit wild salmonid populations as well as farmed fish.
12. Proposed powers to place additional controls on discharges from wellboats are intended to control the discharge of sea-lice and pathogens, which would benefit wild salmonid populations as well as farmed fish.
13. Proposed powers to place controls on discharges from plants processing farmed fish are intended to control the discharge of sea-lice and pathogens, which would benefit wild salmonid populations as well as farmed fish.
14. Proposed powers to prescribe lower sea-lice thresholds above which measures need to be taken: the sea-lice management regime and treatment triggers are included in the "Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture". In some circumstances this management regime may be insufficient; this intervention is intended to target necessary responses to particular circumstances, thereby reducing the risk of unacceptable sea-lice burdens. In consequence, it should have benefits for wild salmonids as well as for farmed fish.
15. The proposed power to require finfish farms to use equipment that conforms to a Scottish Technical Standard is intended to improve containment and reduce escapes, thereby reducing the risk of competition, displacement and inter-breeding, with benefits for wild salmonid populations.
16. Proposed powers to improve salmon and freshwater fisheries management include: to change Salmon District Annual Close Time Orders; to promote combined salmon conservation measures; to attach conditions to statutory conservation measures; and to require provision of comprehensive effort (catch) data on rod fisheries. These measures are intended to enhance capacity for management of wild fisheries in general and stocks in particular. This would have benefits for wild salmonid populations.
17. In addition, powers to recall, restrict or exclude the jurisdiction of District Salmon Fishery Boards to license the introduction of salmonids in their District are intended to control introductions and further protect biodiversity, in particular reducing the risk of competition, displacement and inter-breeding, with consequent benefits for wild salmonids.
Cumulative Effects Assessment
18. Cumulative and synergistic effects have been considered in terms of those arising from finfish farms, wellboats and farmed fish processing plants on wild salmonids. Given the nature of the proposed provisions, this has been undertaken as a high-level assessment.
19. Taken together, the proposed provisions for enhanced controls on finfish aquaculture and additional controls on discharges from wellboats and farmed fish processing plants are likely to result in reduced levels of sea-lice and/or pathogens in the marine environment. This is likely to have a cumulative benefit for wild salmonids.
20. Similarly, taken together, the proposals to improve existing salmon and freshwater fisheries management will likely enhance efforts to conserve wild salmon. This is also likely to have a cumulative benefit for wild salmonids.
21. Views on the Bill Consultation Document and the findings of the SEA are now being sought. The Bill Consultation Document sets out the information on how to respond to the consultation. In summary, please send your response (along with the completed Respondent Information Form) to:
Or Mail: 1B-North, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ
Telephone: 0131 244 6243
Fax: 0131 244 6512
If you have any queries please contact Catriona Graham on 0131 244 6243.
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