Independent review of Scottish aquaculture consenting

Report of the independent review of the planning and consenting process for Scottish aquaculture, jointly commissioned by Marine Scotland and The Crown Estate.

1 Introduction


This document presents the Final Report for the project: Independent review of the consenting regime for Scottish aquaculture. The project was commissioned jointly by Marine Scotland and The Crown Estate and has been undertaken by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd in collaboration with Ironside Farrar Ltd.


As Scotland's most valuable food export, the Scottish Government recognises aquaculture as being an increasingly important industry for Scotland, generating local employment, income and export revenue in rural and coastal communities of the north and west of Scotland. Scottish seafood is recognised around the world as being of the highest quality.

The Scottish Government is supportive of the sustainable growth of aquaculture as set out in Scotland's National Marine Plan, and supports the aim of Scotland's aquaculture industry to achieve sustainable growth targets, with due regard to the marine environment, by 2020 (Scottish Government, 2015). The targets are to increase:

  • Marine finfish production sustainably to 210,000 tonnes (in 2013, it was 165,256 tonnes - 163,234 salmon, 1,964 marine rainbow trout, 56 halibut and 2 sea trout); and
  • Shellfish production (especially mussels) to 13,000 tonnes (in 2013, it was 6,757 tonnes).

The aquaculture consenting process has been amended and added to as the industry has developed. This project aims to understand whether there are inefficiencies, duplication or unnecessary complexities across the current consenting regimes; and whether the overall system fits the requirements and operation of the industry.


The objectives of the project are as follows:

a. To examine the whole aquaculture consenting process, its interactions and implementation including clear identification of the range of legislative obligations that apply to aquaculture businesses and the development of a 'base-map' of the current process;

b. To identify and consider duplication, obstacles and unnecessary complexities in the current process and any evidence to indicate whether these appear rooted in the legislation itself or in the manner of its implementation;

c. To determine and understand the concerns of the key stakeholders in the consenting process, including the aquaculture industry, regulating authorities and statutory consultees ( Appendix 1 provides a list of consultees);

d. To examine the scope for improvements to the consenting system; and

e. To provide recommendations to resolve the identified issues or recommend alternative approaches to existing consenting systems.


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