Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Consultation Document Environmental Report February 2012

This Environmental Report sets out the results of the assessment of the possible environmental effects of provisions in the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.


Relationship with Other Qualifying Plans, Programmes and Strategies

2.1 The existing legislative and policy framework for aquaculture, freshwater and sea fisheries (as these relate to the Bill consultation document) is illustrated in Figure 1.

The Bill Consultation Document

2.2 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
  • charging.

A summary of the provisions proposed for inclusion in the Bill is set out in the following paragraphs.

Sustainable Development of Aquaculture

2.3 Farm Management Agreements: creating a legal requirement for all finfish farm operators in the marine environment to participate in a Farm Management Agreement ( FMAg), where existing operators would take ownership and agree appropriate arrangements for their Farm Management Area ( FMA), and new operators entering an area would be required to join into that agreement, or an amended one.

2.4 Appropriate Scale Management Areas: for the aquaculture industry to retain primary responsibility for determining the boundaries of FMAs in accordance with the Code of Good Practice ( CoGP) [1] , with Scottish Ministers having powers to specify FMA boundaries, or other relevant measures, where considered necessary and appropriate in the wider public and environmental interest.

2.5 Management Measures and Dispute Resolution: creating an independent process, with statutory backing, for arbitration between interested parties in cases where agreement has not been reached.

2.6 Unused Consents: powers for the Scottish Ministers to revoke unused consents in certain circumstances (such as where the owner of a site may not be traceable).

Figure 1. Policy Context for the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Consultation Document

Figure 1. Policy Context for the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Consultation Document

2.7 Collection and Publication of Sea-Lice Data: the Healthier Fish Working Group recommended an industry-run database which would provide publicly facing reports on sea-lice numbers, tied to a new statutory reporting requirement to the Scottish Ministers for sea-lice treatment failures. The Bill consultation document invites views on the most appropriate approach to the collection and publication of sea-lice data.

2.8 Surveillance, Biosecurity, Mortality and Disease Data: powers for Scottish Ministers to require the submission of additional data on fish mortality, movements, results of external surveillance, sea-lice treatments and fish farm production data.

2.9 Biomass Control: powers for Scottish Ministers to require SEPA to reduce the biomass limit in a site licence, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

2.10 Wellboats: make enabling legislation giving powers to Scottish Ministers to place additional control requirements on wellboats. These could include satellite and remote monitoring of wellboat movements and activity respectively, and additional controls on discharges ( e.g. of sea-lice).

2.11 Farmed Fish Processing Facilities: additional powers for Scottish Ministers to place controls on farmed fish processing plants, for example to insist on arrangements for filtration of sea-lice, or other treatments, to minimise potential harm from discharges.

2.12 Seaweed Cultivation: inviting views on the proposal to regulate seaweed cultivation, and whether the most appropriate approach would be through marine licensing under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

2.13 Commercially Damaging Native Species: inviting views on the proposed additional powers for Scottish Ministers to control commercially damaging species.

Protection of Shellfish Growing Areas

2.14 In order to ensure that shellfish water quality continues to be protected after the Shellfish Waters Directive (SWD) is repealed, Marine Scotland proposes to incorporate the aims of the SWD into the Water Framework Directive implementation framework. This would be achieved through the following provisions: powers for Scottish Ministers to identify areas for the protection of economically significant shellfish; setting out objectives and environmental standards that would apply in these waters; a duty to consult interested parties and relevant public bodies before any designations/de-designations are made, or objectives set; a duty for SEPA to secure the necessary monitoring to assess the condition of shellfish waters and the effectiveness of any measures taken for their protection; and a duty to classify the designated waters in line with specified environmental standards.

Fish Farming And Wild Salmonid Interactions

2.15 Sea-Lice: The Code of Good Practice ( CoGP) sets out criteria for triggering sea-lice treatment. This proposed provision would provide powers for Scottish Ministers to determine a lower threshold than that set out in the CoGP, above which remedial action for sea-lice needs to be taken in appropriate circumstances, potentially as part of a wider suite of protection measures.

2.16 Containment and Escapes: powers for Scottish Ministers to require all finfish farms operating in Scotland to use equipment conforming to a Scottish Technical Standard, with sanctions for non-compliance. The technical content of the proposed standard would not be defined in the Bill but would be defined separately.

2.17 Tracing Escapes: Introducing additional powers for Scottish Ministers to take or require samples of fish from fish farms, for purposes of tracing escaped fish.

Salmon And Freshwater Fisheries Management

2.18 Modernising the Operation of District Salmon Fishery Boards: updating the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003 to place a new duty on District Salmon Fishery Boards ( DSFBs) to act fairly and transparently. This proposed duty could be supported by a sector-developed Code of Good Practice on the operation of DSFBs. The consultation document seeks views as to whether such a code should be statutory or non-statutory.

2.19 Statutory Carcass Tagging: powers to introduce statutory carcass tagging of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout, with sanctions for non-compliance, in line with voluntary trials being undertaken by a number of netting businesses.

2.20 Fish Sampling: powers for Scottish Ministers to take, or require, fish and/or samples for genetic or other analysis from any fishery.

2.21 Management and Salmon Conservation Measures: powers for Scottish Ministers to initiate changes to Salmon District Annual Close Time Orders; to promote combined salmon conservation measures at their own hand; and to attach conditions, such as monitoring and reporting requirements, to statutory salmon conservation measures.

2.22 Dispute Resolution: powers for Scottish Ministers related to mediation and dispute resolution, to help resolve disputes around salmon conservation measures, management, and any related compensation measures..

2.23 Improved Information on Fish and Fisheries: extending the present annual catch survey to include effort data on the rod fisheries on a mandatory and comprehensive basis, with sanctions for non-compliance or providing false or misleading data.

2.24 Licensing of Fish Introductions to Fresh Water: powers for Scottish Ministers to recall, restrict or exclude the jurisdiction of DSFBs as licensing authority for the introduction of salmonids in their district, in certain circumstances, e.g. where the DSFB is authorising its own actions.

Modernising Enforcement Provisions/ Changes to Sea Fisheries Legislation

2.25 Strict Liability for Certain Offences Related to Aquaculture Operations: applying strict liability criteria for offences related to breach of requirements for, or conditions of, Marine Licensing requirements (under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010), insofar as they apply to aquaculture operations specifically, and potentially in other similar situations.

2.26 Widening the Scope of Fixed Penalty Notices: extend the use of fixed financial penalties as alternatives to prosecution in relation to marine, aquaculture and other regulatory issues for which Marine Scotland has a compliance, monitoring and enforcement role; and increasing the maximum sum that can be levied through a fixed penalty notice to £10,000.

2.27 Enforcement of EU Obligations Beyond British Fisheries Limits: amending section 30(1) of the Fisheries Act 1981 insofar as it relates to Scottish vessels, to create offences and provide enforcement powers for the enforcement of EU fishing restrictions and obligations beyond the 200 mile fisheries limit.

2.28 Powers to Detain Vessels in Port: providing power to sea fisheries enforcement officers to allow vessels to be detained in port for the purposes of court proceedings.

2.29 Disposal of Property/Forfeiture of Prohibited Items: provide power to sea fisheries enforcement officers to dispose of property seized as evidence when it is no longer required, or forfeit items which would be illegal to use.

2.30 Power to Inspect Objects: provide power to allow sea fisheries enforcement officers to inspect objects in the sea and elsewhere that are not obviously associated with a vessel, vehicle or relevant premises.

2.31 Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967: amending the Act to apply to all shellfish rather than certain listed shellfish and to simplify the role of Scottish Ministers regarding the appointment of an inspector to undertake an inquiry into a proposed order.

Paying For Progress

2.32 Make enabling provisions for Scottish Ministers to provide, through secondary legislation, for both direct and more generic charges for services/benefits arising from public sector services and activities.


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