Scottish Aquaculture Council minutes: November 2022

Minutes from the meeting held 15 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands


  • Alex Adrian, Crown Estate Scotland
  • Clare Cavers, Scottish Environment LINK / Fidra
  • Julie Fitzpatrick, Chief Scientific Advisor for Scotland, SG
  • Russel Griggs, Independent Reviewer
  • Ben Hadfield, Mowi / Salmon Scotland
  • Alice Hall, Deputy Director Environment Quality and Resilience, SG
  • Elaine Jamieson, Highlands and Islands Enterprise [Remote]
  • Heather Jones, Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre
  • Ian Laister, Bakkafrost / Salmon Scotland
  • Nick Lake, Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers [remote]
  • Nicole Paterson, Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Malcolm Pentland, Deputy Director Aquaculture and Recreational Fisheries, SG
  • Dawn Purchase, Marine Conservation Society
  • Oliver Robinson, British Trout Association
  • Tavish Scott, Salmon Scotland
  • Fiona Simpson, Chief Planner, Scottish Government
  • Owen Stevens, Scottish Seaweed Industry Association
  • Cathy Tilbrook, NatureScot
  • Annabel Turpie, Director, Marine Scotland, Scottish Government, SG
  • Sheila Voas, Chief Veterinary Officer for Scotland, SG
  • Alan Wells, Fisheries Management Scotland

Additional attendees

  • Jill Barber, Head of Aquaculture Development, SG
  • Bill Ellis, Consenting Task Group Team Lead, SG
  • Julien Lake, Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture Team Lead, SG


  • Mairi McAllan, Minister for Environment and Land Reform
  • Nick Halfhide, NatureScot
  • Ronan O’Hara, Crown Estate Scotland

Secretariat provided by Marine Scotland directorate officials.

Items and actions

Summary of meeting 2 actions

  • Scottish Government (SG) committed to ensure papers are circulated timeously and confirmed the final Terms of Reference for the SAC
  • minute from the SAC’s first meeting to be considered for publication by Ministers
  • offer from Professor Russel Griggs to provide support to the consenting task group to be considered by officials
  • Scottish Government to consider the comments provided in relation to the development of the Vision and progress with the upcoming stakeholder engagement sessions

Welcome, apologies and housekeeping

The Cabinet Secretary welcomed everyone to the second meeting of the Scottish Aquaculture Council (SAC) and welcomed those attending for the first time.

Agreement of SAC meeting 1 minutes (27 June) - paper SAC-02 (02)

Meeting 1 minutes were discussed and comments were provided regarding the timing of distribution of the papers for this meeting of the SAC, referring to the terms of reference, to allow members to consider the papers fully in advance of the meetings.

Action: Scottish Government committed to ensure papers are circulated timeously and confirmed the final Terms of Reference for the SAC.

A new member requested to comment on the meeting 1 minutes. No further comments were received from attendees.

Action: Minute to be taken into consideration for publication by Ministers.

Science: Final agreement between the Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) and Scottish Ministers - paper SAC-02 (03)

The Cabinet Secretary notified members that the SSAC scoping agreement had been published on the SSAC website and that initial progress had been made on the work, which aims to complete in six months. Further context was provided by the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) regarding the details of the science workstream, noting that a short life project group was being set up with SSAC members and external experts and that the approach would be inclusive and transparent utilising stakeholder engagement. Outputs from the SSAC work would include a note on how the science is accessed and communicated in relation to aquaculture regulation and advice on practical solutions and examples of best practice, where relevant. Some members raised concern about the pace of delivery of the SEPA sea lice risk assessment framework, stating it should be paused, and queried whether there was an independent role for the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre on the technical aspect of the issues around science. It was clarified, that the whole consenting system would be considered in the scope of the SSAC’s work, including the SEPA Sea Lice Risk Assessment Framework but that the work would not be paused and would continue to progress in parallel with SEPA incorporating any lessons learned. The first update to the Cabinet Secretary on the science workstream will be provided by the end of November 2022 with the final report due by the end of March 2023. It was made clear during the meeting that the peer review process of the science and review of individual scientific papers would not be in scope. A query was raised about whether a collaborative approach would be followed by SEPA in delivery of the sea lice risk assessment framework. It was confirmed that SEPA is committed to an open, transparent and robust process. Members queried whether SG will take action on recommendations from the SSAC. The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that there would be full consideration of the final report. A query was raised about whether visual and seascape requirements will be considered by the SSAC. It was confirmed that the work of the SSAC will be informed by issues raised through interviews. It was proposed that a Strategic Environmental Assessment for shellfish could make the system more efficient. There was support for the work of the SSAC and expert appointments made.

Consenting: Consenting workshop and task group - papers SAC-02 (04) and SAC-02 (04) annex A

An outline on the next steps of the Consenting Task Group work and a copy of the Terms of Reference were provided to the group, which members were asked to comment upon. The Terms of Reference for the Consenting Task Group were agreed. The Cabinet Secretary and officials responded to queries on the consenting workshop report. It was suggested that external experts may be of use to the Consenting Task Group. Members were notified of the intention to appoint Professor Dickon Howell as the chair of this Group. It was clarified that the initial focus of the task group was on exploring efficiencies within the current system with a focus on a multi-lateral pre-application process. This approach and intention was supported by Professor Russel Griggs who offered support to the process. It was agreed that a trial of a live application would be desirable and the fish farming sector offered industry support to complete trials. It was requested that the approach is integrated with the SEPA sea lice risk assessment framework in due course.

Action: Offer of support from Professor Russel Griggs to be considered. 

Vision for sustainable aquaculture - paper SAC-02 (05)

A short presentation was provided on the development of the Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture. It was noted that there were still some stakeholder engagement sessions outstanding. The level of detail to be included in the Vision was discussed by members with different views ranging from some who expressed a desire to see detailed outcomes with clear SMART objectives and others advocating for a much more succinct high level Vision. A number of specific points were made by members on some initial draft outcomes which officials noted and will consider as a draft is developed for Ministers’ consideration.

Action: Scottish Government to consider the comments provided and progress with the upcoming stakeholder engagement sessions.

Any other business

The dates for next meetings were noted as follows:

  • 22 February 2023
  • 26 April 2023
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