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Some Scottish salmon farming firms could be forced to relocate their centres to deeper water to meet SEPA's proposed rules.

Tougher rules could force salmon farm relocation

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Thursday, November 08, 2018, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

Tough new rules being proposed by Scotland's environmental watchdog for salmon farming, based on a study conducted by Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), could lead to the closure of some salmon farms operating in shallow waters.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency exercises pressure on aquatic salmon farms. (Photo: SEPA/FIS)

These new restrictions are intended to limit the use of chemical treatments for parasitic sea lice, to reduce animal waste and uneaten food from fish farms as well as the development of an updated environmental modelling, which could mean some sites will have to relocate to deeper waters with stronger tides, BBC News reported.

In order to improve monitoring of fish farms a dedicated team will be formed with an increase in the number of unannounced inspections.

A recent SEPA report said one in five salmon farms in Scotland failed to meet statutory environmental standards.

Terry A'Hearn, SEPA chief executive, said at the time that compliance was "non-negotiable" and promised a revised regime to strengthen the regulation of the sector.

Referring to the new rules, A'Hearn told BBC Scotland: "What we've done is some of the best science in the world to upgrade the modelling that's used, to upgrade the assessment that will take place and to enhance the way we ensure compliance and enforcement take place. What we hope it means is that fish farms will be sited in the best positions."

The officer explained that some operators may decide to close some sites that are in shallower waters where the environmental impact is bigger.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), pointed out they share SEPA's vision of an innovative, sustainable salmon industry underpinned by clear and accurate regulation. 

"This report will remove many of the barriers preventing the development of more modern facilities further from the shore and we look forward to SEPA's support as the industry makes this change,” the SSPO leader commented.

"The discovery of residues is important information but it should be remembered that salmon farmers were operating to SEPA guidelines throughout the past five years," SSPO director concluded.

SEPA's proposed measures will be subject to a seven-week consultation.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament's Rural Economy Committee is still finalising a report into the industry's future.

Dr Sam Collin, marine planning officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: "Bringing in these precautionary approaches that Sepa is proposing is good but we are concerned, disappointed really, that they are only being applied to new farms.”

"They don't really address the existing farms that are out there using these chemicals,” he claimed.

Collin expressed their preference to see a retroactive approach where they address an impact that is already happening.

Salmon is Scotland's biggest food export worth more than GBP 1 billion to the economy and the Scottish government supports its expansion.
 
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