Marine Scotland Science requirements for planning applications and EIAs

Guidance on MSS planning and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).

Marine Scotland Science (Aquaculture and Animal Health Programme) aims to provide regulation and scientific advice underpinned by research to support the Scottish Government's vision of a sustainable, growing and diverse aquaculture industry while safeguarding the high health status of farmed and wild fish and shellfish stocks. Marine Scotland's regulatory role for marine aquaculture covers fish health and biosecurity under The Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and containment and sea lice under the The Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007. Aquaculture Production Businesses (APBs) are also authorised by MSS's Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). Discharges of chemotherapeutants from wellboats are regulated under The Food Environment Protection Act, 1985 (II Deposits in the Sea) and Section 34 consents issued under the Coast Protection Act (1949).

Marine Scotland Science also acts as Statutory Consultee on behalf of Scottish Ministers for aquaculture planning under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended by the Planning etc. [Scotland] Act 2006) providing consultation responses to local authorities on applications for new and modifying fish and shellfish farms. Marine Scotland Science's remit in consultation covers issues concerning: environmental consequences; effects on wild salmonid fisheries and fish health issues. The role that MSS plays in consultation and its remit is described more fully in the 'Working Arrangements' document agreed by all statutory consultees as part of the Delivering Planning Reform for Aquaculture process (the Working Arrangements document is currently under review). The range of information that MSS may request to support EIA and/or planning applications is also detailed in the 'information requirements' document (available soon) but the scope of MSS's role and the range of information likely to be required is described in brief below.

Environmental Impacts

MSS will ensure that where Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is appropriate for finfish applications, the following issues are adequately addressed: sea bed damage, nutrient enhancement of receiving waters and chemical usage (including the use of sea lice chemotherapeutants).

Fish Health

The Fish Health Inspectorate at MSS will consider fish health, sea lice and containment issues pertinent to their legislative responsibilities under The Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007. This will include disease management areas, stocking, mortality removal, sea lice control strategies, treatment chemicals and treatment methods. Under containment, escape contingency plans, predator control measures and suitability of equipment on site will be assessed.

More information on the FHI

Wild Salmonid Fisheries

Fisheries for Atlantic salmon and sea trout represent an important ecological and economic resource for Scotland. The aim of the Freshwater Programme is to protect and promote sustainable Scottish salmon and freshwater fisheries and to provide Scottish Ministers and others with the best advice available. Our advice is underpinned by a programme of research and monitoring of fisheries, fish populations and their environment. We are also involved in some direct regulation in relation to fisheries.

With regard to fish farm planning applications, the major areas for consideration in relation to wild salmonid fisheries are; potential for consequences of escaped farmed fish through inter-breeding and competition with wild fish; potential for effects of diseases and parasites on wild fish resulting from the presence of fish farms and the potential for consequences from introduction of non-native farmed species.

Shellfish Applications

MSS will provide advice on the risk of shellfish developments exceeding biological carrying capacity of an area, shellfish hygiene issues and shellfish disease and biosecurity issues associated with proposed developments.

Locational Guidance

MSS provides map-based locational guidance to assist targeted development of the industry in appropriate locations. The Locational Guidelines maps categorise inshore waters into three categories based on their suitability for additional development for finfish farming, and disease management area maps are published indicating the zones within which fish diseases are surveilled and controlled in the event of an outbreak.

Delivering Planning Reform for Aquaculture
Locational Guidelines: Marine Fish Farms in Scottish Waters
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