New consultation on the impact of fish farming –

New consultation on the impact of fish farming Published:  18 May, 2004

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is consulting the fish farming industry and other interested parties on a report into research priorities. The report deals with scientific and technical issues relating to the ability of the environment to cope with nutrients and waste discharges from fish farming and other man-made sources.

A government working group on aquaculture asked SEPA to gather experts in this area to produce a report on key areas of research work. SEPA has published this report on its website, on behalf of the experts’ group, and is now looking for comments.

In broad terms, the group’s recommendations for future research activities include:

· Improving the specific modelling tools used to assess the cumulative impact of nutrient inputs to a defined area of sea.

· Ensuring that the regulatory process takes account of all relevant factors such as internationally-set water quality objectives.

· Comparing natural variability in the environment with assumptions used in modelling techniques.

· Assessing the potential of a smaller number of larger fish farm production units to reduce overall environmental impact.

Once the group has considered any comments, the next steps will include:

· submission of its findings to funding agencies to allow them to prioritise research budgets accordingly (by autumn 2004)

· researchers will begin work on an improved approach to modelling and validate it using field data (by March 2006)

· assuming a successful outcome, SEPA will carry out another consultation on the new approach before putting it in place for assessing high risk sites (by December 2006).

The group will submit its views to the Ministerial Working Group on Aquaculture, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum (SARF).

The detailed report, which is necessarily written for a scientific and technical audience, is available on from the ‘projects and publications’ section and paper copies are available from ACEWG, c/o SEPA, Graesser House, Fodderty Way, Dingwall, IV15 9XB.

Interested parties should send responses to ACEWG, c/o SEPA, Graesser House, Fodderty Way, Dingwall, IV15 9XB or e-mail them to to reach SEPA by 5.00pm on Monday 7th June 2004.