Global, Regional and National Perspectives
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Nigel Bankes, Irene Dahl and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 17: Aquaculture and the law: United Kingdom and Scotland
The breeding, rearing or keeping of fish or shellfish began in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1970s. Originally focused on the farming of salmon the industry has more recently expanded to other types of species and methods, including the extensive farming of shellfish. The majority of aquaculture activity in the UK, however, remains that of finfish, with the predominate location being the North Atlantic coast, off the islands and in the sea lochs of the west coast of Scotland and within and around the northern islands of Orkney and Shetland. The geographical features in these areas, with fjordic inlets and many islands, have resulted in an extensive coastline and sheltered areas to provide the appropriate land and sea locations for fish farming. The coastal areas of the North Sea on the east coast result in a more exposed landscape consisting of cliffs and beaches. This area is also where the most important rivers for wild salmon occur. A moratorium on aquaculture development on the north and east coasts of Scotland has, therefore, been in operation since 1999, in order to protect migratory fish, particularly wild salmon, from contamination, interbreeding and disease from the farmed species. It is not anticipated that this moratorium will be lifted in the foreseeable future, due to the pressing need to protect wild salmon. Fishing wild salmon is an important industry in its own right, and the effective management and protection of salmon rivers has many social, economic and environmental and ecosystem service benefits for the areas in which they are located. This chapter is mostly about the regulation of farmed salmon in Scotland. It will focus on the legal and policy development of the marine aquaculture industry, which although relatively small in a global context, is an interesting one to examine for three reasons. Firstly, the regulatory and policy framework for marine aquaculture in Scotland has been subject to review and change in recent years. Secondly, the Scottish government and the aquaculture industry have set ambitious targets for growth up to 2020 which have been reflected in policy, but which will be challenging to deliver. Lastly, Scotland now has experience of a relatively new statutory marine planning regime, of which the aquaculture industry forms a part.
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