Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund
Provision of support to a range of collaborative projects under the SRDP’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund delivered knowledge transfer and innovative projects that aimed to improve efficiency, enhance profitability, improve biodiversity and mitigate against climate change.
39 projects have been funded to date with £5.8 million of grant funding spent and were completed March 2021.
5 projects were awarded just over £170,000 of funding through KTIF. The chosen project have a specific focus on resource efficiency, cutting emissions, environmental performance and sustainability of agricultural holdings.
Sustainable growth and environmental impacts for the aquaculture industry
The need to strike an appropriate balance between the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry and the associated environmental impacts is recognised.
The Scottish Government's response to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee report on Salmon Farming in Scotland (29 January 2019) included, as part of any future request for planning advice, that Marine Scotland will expect a condition requiring an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to be delivered for any consents for marine aquaculture planning applications (when there is, or there is potential for, wild/farmed salmon interaction).
We updated local authorities and industry that Marine Scotland's screening and scoping responses will advise what we would expect EMPs to include (as a minimum), should the applicant submit a planning application. Consultation responses will also confirm whether these areas have been included in an EMP.
The Scottish Government is committed to moving beyond the status quo and the independent review of Scotland’s regulatory framework for aquaculture being led by Professor Russel Griggs will help to inform what more can be done within the current regime to improve transparency and efficiency. We will consider the recommendations made by Professor Russel Griggs at the end of 2021 and work to deliver a Scottish Government led vision for sustainable aquaculture in 2022.
The Scottish Government is committed through the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party Shared Policy Programme to a step change in how we manage the marine environment.
In October 2021 the Scottish Government published its response to the Salmon Interactions Working Group Report which contains 40 recommendations on measures to address the interactions between wild and farmed salmon in Scotland. A copy of the response can be found on the Scottish Government website.
In our response we announced a range of measures, including strengthened controls on fish escapes and the introduction of penalties for fish farm escapes with the ultimate aim of ring-fencing or redistributing this money to support wild salmonid conservation and research.
Our response identified the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) as the lead body responsible for managing the risk to wild fish from sea lice from fish farms. SEPA is currently consulting on a new spatially-based risk assessment framework for sea lice and the protection of wild salmon, closing in March 2022.
A number of other changes to regulation and wider initiatives have also been undertaken which have progressed a number of Rural Economy and Connectivity and Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee recommendations. Progress has been and continues to be made in these areas.
The seaweed sector underpins sustainable economic growth that supports the production of high-nutrition food source with a host of health benefits, and can contribute to net zero goals. The Scottish Government is supportive of a seaweed industry, and introduced a Seaweed Cultivation Policy Statement to help facilitate sector growth by setting out policies on seaweed cultivation, to support potential cultivators and investors in the sector.
The Scottish Government and Crown Estate Scotland, have provided funding to the Scottish Seaweed Industry Association to appoint a Development Director, who will work to establish a coherent and strategic direction for the commercial development of the Scottish seaweed industry.
Regulatory framework for aquaculture sustainable growth
The Scottish Government and its agencies are working with the sector, and with others, to develop a policy and regulatory framework that enables sustainable growth while maintaining the right balance across our economic, environmental and social responsibilities.
Our Technical Working Group has been tasked with developing a practical framework for assessing the sea lice loading and management requirements, taking account of the best available scientific understanding and the precautionary principle. The group comprises experts from the regulators - Marine Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and representatives of local authorities.
It is intended that this framework will underpin future planning advice. Through the framework, adaptive management based on enhanced monitoring will create an enabling environment for encouraging further aquaculture development where impacts can be mitigated.
The Scottish Government asked the Salmon Interactions Working Group (SIWG) to consider the conclusions of the 2018 report by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Salmon Farming in Scotland, and to provide recommendations on the interactions between wild and farmed salmon in Scotland. The SIWG Report, published in May 2020, contains over 40 recommendations on a future approach for managing interactions. We will shortly respond to the SIWG Report and take forward a programme of work to strengthen controls on sea lice and fish escapes. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency will consult on a new adaptive spatially-based risk assessment framework for sea lice emissions by the end of 2021.
An external review of the current regulatory framework for aquaculture will help inform what more can be done within the current regime to improve efficiency and effectiveness of regulation and consider options for delivery of reform in the longer term. The scope of the review is outlined in the Terms of Reference, which has been published on the Scottish Government website. Professor Griggs’ report was published on 10 February 2022 and the Scottish Government will provide a written response in early spring.
We are also developing a Scottish Government-led Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture that will place an enhanced emphasis on environmental protection and community benefit. Encouraging increasingly sustainable production of farmed seafood will be a core outcome of the Vision. The Vision will be developed with the input of a wide range of relevant stakeholders and building on the best available evidence. The Vision will be published in 2022.
Sea lice reporting
Industry began publishing site level sea lice data and fulfilled a commitment made under the framework to move to proactive and open reporting of mortality information in 2018 – a pioneering approach in the farming sector.
A review of Scotland's farmed fish sea lice policy was a priority action for Scottish Government which was included in Scotland's 10 Year Farmed Fish Health Framework (published in 2018).
Outcomes of the review included:
- The introduction of legislation in 2020 that will require all marine farms to report a weekly sea lice number to Scottish Government;
- Reduction of the reporting and intervention thresholds in lice on adult female fish from June 2019;
- A commitment, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, to a further reduction of intervention thresholds in lice on adult female fish in 2021;
- That we will explore the establishment of independent sea lice count checks.
The Farmed Fish Health Framework was refreshed in October 2020 with a new governance structure and a refreshed approach. •The new steering group is focussing on three priority workstreams: analysis of the cause of fish mortality, impact of and adaptation to climate change and improving accessibility of treatments (including medicines). Mandatory sea lice reporting legislation was introduced in December 2020 and came in to force on 29 March 2021. Since then, all marine farms have been reporting an average weekly sea lice number, per fish farm site to Scottish Government. The reported data is published on Scotland’s Aquaculture Website. Work is ongoing to consider a further reduction of sea lice intervention levels and due to report before the end of 2021.
The commitment to a reduction in the reporting and enforcement levels for sea lice made in 2019 (from 4 and 6 adult female sea lice per fish, to 2 and 4 respectively) unless there is evidence to the contrary, will be progressed in line with further commitment made in the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party Shared Policy Programme and within the context of wider work streams such as independent Regulatory Review of Aquaculture. More information on sea lice management can be found on the Marine Scotland topic sheet on sea lice management.
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