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Legal insights & industry updates

| 1 minute read

"Protection zones" proposed under new fish farming regime in Scotland

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), set to take on the lead regulatory role for marine fish farming in Scotland, has made proposals for the implementation of a new assessment framework for regulating the interaction between sea lice from marine finfish farm developments and wild Atlantic salmon. 

The proposed framework, which comes as part of a newly published SEPA consultation document (due to close on 14 March 2022), would be imbedded within the wider SEPA regulatory framework which was introduced in 2019, whereby SEPA already regulate discharges from marine finfish farms to the water environment. 

At its heart, the new assessment framework would comprise two main components; (i) wild salmon protection zones; and (ii) a sea lice exposure threshold that applies in these zones.  Implementation of the framework would also mean that all proposals for new marine finish farms (or increases in fish numbers at existing finfish farms) would be subject to an assessment of the risk posed to wild salmon post-smolts.  Post-smolt refers to the transfer of a freshwater adapted fish to a salmon that has acquired seawater tolerance (a biological process also referred to as smoltification).      

Whilst the consultation document recognises that poor conservation status of salmon stocks in Scotland cannot solely be attributed to sea lice, SEPA are specifically focusing on the risk posed by sea lice to Atlantic salmon through this current consultation.          

You can read more about the new regulatory role of SEPA here.

The SEPA consultation paper can also be found here.

The new regime for regulating fish farming in Scotland will include wild salmon protection zones in which applications for new or expanded farm sites could be turned down if the risk to wild fish from sea lice is deemed to be too great.


food and drink, marine economy, regulation