Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill –

Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Published:  21 December, 2006

Rhona Brankin

THE Scottish Parliament has unanimously agreed the principles of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.

Speaking during the Stage One debate, Deputy Environment Minister Rhona Brankin said: “Retail spend on salmon products in the UK this year reached £430 million and the salmon farming industry is estimated to support the employment of some 8,500 people. There is scope for aquaculture to grow in Scotland, particularly for other sectors such as shellfish and other marine species.

“Anglers fishing in Scotland spend annually some £113 million, supporting some 2,800 full time equivalent jobs, mostly in rural areas. There is considerable scope for angling, particularly coarse angling, to grow in Scotland.

“The Bill seeks to act as a ‘backstop’ to the fish farming industry’s Code of Good Practice and all sides recognise that it strikes the right balance on the degree of regulation. It lays strong foundations for the further development of both freshwater fisheries and aquaculture for the benefit of Scotland.

“The proposals in this Bill are on the right track and I am optimistic that the measured, consensual approach will continue for the remainder of the Bill’s passage through Parliament.”

Aquaculture – the Bill:

Introduces a duty on fish farmers to collect, retain and make available for inspection information relating to fish parasites and containment of fish;

Give powers to allow inspectors authorised by Ministers to take samples of stock and measure levels of parasites;

Introduces powers to allow inspectors access to ascertain whether fish have escaped from a farm and to investigate the risk of potential escapes;

Allows enforcement action to be taken where farms do not have satisfactory measures in place to control parasites or contain fish

Gives Ministers the power to approve a Code of Practice to improve parasite control and containment and take action if the approved Code is contravened;

Regulates live fish movements into specified areas in marine waters

Allows Ministers to establish a scheme to pay some compensation for any fish destroyed for the purposes of disease controls; and

Increases powers to allow Ministers to fund initiatives relating to sea fisheries, freshwater fisheries, aquaculture and inshore fisheries.

Freshwater fisheries – the Bill:

Gives powers to introduce a temporary order restricting the movement of live fish, fish eggs and foodstuff for fish in the event of an outbreak of Gyrodactylus salaris anywhere in the UK and to make disinfection arrangements;

Gives powers to take measures for the containment and eradication of Gyrodactylus salaris including:

powers to construct, maintain and dismantle barriers across rivers

for this purpose a power of compulsory purchase of land, a power to enter onto land for the purposes of surveying the river

the closure of existing fish passes to prevent upstream migration of fish,treat rivers with chemicals or other agents to kill the Gyrodactylus salaris parasite, permit the removal and disposal of dead and moribund fish;

Introduces powers to allow Scottish Ministers to order the compulsory slaughter of fish to eradicate Gyrodactylus salaris;

Amends existing provisions in the Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003 relating to protection orders, close times, use of rod rests, use of live vertebrates as bait, use of gaffs, tailers, pike gags, landing nets and keep nets; and

Prohibits the intentional introduction of live fish into inland waters without prior written approval.

Sea fisheries the Bill:

Makes technical amendments to the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and the Fisheries Act 1981 is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.