Our wild salmon and sea trout are a vital part of Scotland’s heritage and they are now under threat. Alongside our members, Fisheries Management Scotland are working to make the case for change to ensure that wild fish are protected from any impacts arising from fish farming.
Wild salmonid fish are subject to a range of impacts, including those arising from fish farming. Some impacts, such as climate-induced variations in food availability on the high seas may be out with our direct control. However, of those impacts within human control, the impact of fish farming on wild fish is the only example that does not currently have a regulatory system in place in Scotland. In fact, wild salmon and sea trout fall though the gaps in the current regulatory system at nearly every stage. It is these gaps in the regulatory system that we are working urgently to address.
Fisheries Management Scotland, and our member District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fisheries Trusts in those areas where salmon farming takes place wish to see:
- A world-leading regulatory and planning system which protects wild migratory fish and proactively seeks to address any local negative impacts;
- Thriving salmon and sea trout populations and fisheries without negative impacts arising from salmon farming;
- A harmonious local coexistence with an industry that understands the importance of being a good neighbour and communicates openly and transparently with stakeholders; and
- Investment of a proportion of any profits generated into the protection and improvement of local salmon and sea trout populations and fisheries.
Fisheries Management Scotland and its’s predecessor (the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards) has played a central role in efforts to protect our iconic wild salmon and sea trout from the impacts of aquaculture for many years. We recognise that progress has been slow in this area. However, following two Scottish Parliamentary inquiries and the recent Scottish Government response to the Salmon Interactions Working Group, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been identified as the lead body responsible for managing the risk to wild salmonids arising from fish farms. SEPA have launched a consultation on the proposed new regulatory framework, and we now have a genuine opportunity to make significant and meaningful progress towards a better situation for wild fish and fisheries.
There are many campaigning groups who are concerned about the impacts of aquaculture including our partners in the Missing Salmon Alliance. Our approach is based on engagement with the Scottish Government, regulators and the aquaculture industry, and is focused on the impacts of sea lice and escapes. We do this with the sole purpose of protecting wild fish and developing and delivering concrete ideas to improve the situation. Through such engagement, and the collection of empirical evidence on the ground through structured monitoring we have succeeded in raising awareness of the impacts of aquaculture whilst highlighting the crucial failings of the current regulatory system to the key people who can make the required changes.
Our Fish Farming Committee, supported by our Aquaculture Interactions Manager, helps inform our policy and advocacy work, and provides an excellent forum for the fisheries management sector to take a consistent evidence-based approach to wild-farmed interactions.
Fisheries Management Scotland have made the case for change through the following stakeholder groups:
- The Ministerial Group for Sustainable Aquaculture and associated working groups
- Strategic Farmed Fish Health Framework Working Group and associated working groups
- The Salmon Interactions Working Group
- SEPA Finfish Aquaculture Advisory Panel
- NASCO NGO Group
- We have also engaged with the Scottish Parliament Committees mentioned below:
- Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee:
- Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee:
- Read Fisheries Management Scotland written Evidence
- Read Fisheries Management Scotland written information regarding the Aquaculture Stewardship Council
- Read the REC Committee Report
- Fisheries Management Scotland was also invited to provide oral evidence to the REC Committee Inquiry. Watch the full Committee meeting below.
What have we achieved?
We have worked alongside many organisations and individuals, and we consider that the following represent real progress in our collective efforts to manage wild-farmed interactions:
- The failings of the current regulatory system have been highlighted, resulting in two successive Scottish Parliament inquiries which have made it clear to the Scottish Government that the status quo in terms of regulation and enforcement, is not acceptable.
- Weekly reporting of sea lice data on a farm-by-farm basis is now compulsory and published on Scotland’s Aquaculture webpage.
- Concrete ideas for a reformed regulatory system were delivered through the Salmon Interactions Working Group.
- Robust monitoring approaches have been developed to understand impacts on wild fish, and are delivered through Environmental Management Plans which will feed into the reformed regulatory regime.
- We support our members in engaging with fish farm companies, including developing meaningful consultation during the planning process.