The majority of pressures that our native fish face are under the direct regulatory control of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Fisheries Management Scotland, and our members, are working to ensure that SEPA prioritises the protection and improvement of the water environment, including robust use of regulatory enforcement powers.

The primary route for protection of the water environment in Scotland arose from the European Community (EC)’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) which was transposed into law in Scotland as the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (WEWS Act). The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 – more commonly known as the Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) – and their further amendments apply regulatory controls over activities which may affect Scotland’s water environment.

The Controlled Activities Regulations cover a range of activities of interest to fisheries managers including: discharges to the water environment; diffuse pollution; water abstractions; and engineering works in inland waters. Indeed, most of the pressures that salmon face in the freshwater environment are under the direct regulatory control of SEPA.

SEPA issue authorisation, if appropriate for such activities. The type of authorisation required depends on SEPA’s assessment of the environmental risk of the proposed activity. There are three levels of control:

  • General Binding Rules (GBRs) provide statutory controls over certain low risk activities
  • Registration is intended to cover low risk activities which cumulatively pose a risk to the water environment
  • A licence is needed if site-specific controls are required, particularly if constraints upon the activity are to be imposed

What are we doing?
Fisheries Management Scotland seek to ensure the adequate protection of fish and fisheries through supporting our members to influence the processes set out above. In the light of the wild salmon crisis, we are increasingly questioning whether meeting the requirements set out above are sufficient to protect wild salmon. We are also calling for SEPA to make greater use of their enforcement powers. We regularly support our members in discussions with SEPA with a view to addressing specific local issues, often involving pollution, abstraction or fish passage issues. Fisheries Management Scotland also influence these processes directly though our membership of SEPA’s Fish and Fishery Advisory Group.