Aquaculture regulation in Scotland and the report of the Salmon Interactions Working Group

Regulation of the interactions between wild and farmed salmon and sea trout is complex and involves several different regulatory regimes. The purpose of the document below is to set out the changes proposed by the Salmon Interactions Working Group, and to attempt to explain how Fisheries Management Scotland consider that these changes will improve the situation for wild salmon and sea trout.

In 2018, the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) and Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committees held two inquiries into Scotland’s salmon farming industry. In late 2018, the Scottish Government established a workstream to examine 12 high-level pressures and address the decline in wild Atlantic salmon. The first stage in this process was the establishment of the Salmon Interactions Working Group (SIWG). The SIWG included representatives of Fisheries Management Scotland, conservation and industry bodies and regulators. It is important to emphasise that the SIWG report supplements, but does not supersede, the recommendations of the ECCLR and REC Committee reports. Rather it sets out a framework within which the recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiries should be taken forward.

The SIWG work occurred in parallel with another important workstream which is referred to in the report. A ‘Technical Working Group’ was tasked by the Scottish Government with developing a practical framework for assessing the level of risk posed to wild salmon and sea trout, taking account of the best available scientific understanding and the precautionary principle. The technical group comprises experts from the regulators – Marine Scotland, SEPA, SNH and representatives of local authorities. The output from this work will have a key role to play in the future regulatory framework and will take into account the cumulative effect of management practices on existing farms and impacts on wild salmonid fish.

The next stage in the process is for Scottish Ministers to take forward these recommendations and deliver the reformed regulation system to fully protect wild salmon and sea trout. The report’s authors have urged Ministers to implement the unanimous recommendations in their entirety.

The document below includes a table which sets out some of the key issues relating to wild-farmed interactions in Scotland, and how the SIWG considered they could be addressed.

Proposed changes to aquaculture regulation in Scotland