The Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill will ensure that farmed and wild fisheries continue to be managed effectively, maximising their combined contribution to supporting sustainable economic growth with due regard to the wider marine environment.
Welcoming the introduction of the Bill, Minister for Environment Paul Wheelhouse said: "Scotland is home to economically significant aquaculture and freshwater fisheries sectors. They are critical to the economies of many remote and rural communities, as well as making important contributions to the wider Scottish economy. Farmed salmon is now recognised as our most valuable food export and wild salmon and trout fishing is a key tourism draw."
"We want to ensure both sectors have a successful and sustainable future while providing protection for the environment and thats why we have progressed an Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill at this time. The Bill was developed and informed by a very comprehensive consultation process, where we listened to feedback from more than 1,300 respondents and sought further views.
"I believe we now have a forward-thinking Bill, which achieves a balance between supporting fish farming and freshwater fisheries to thrive, while putting in place the legislative steps to ensure Scotlands precious marine environment continues to be protected something which is recognised as key in the interest of all stakeholders.
"I believe we have got that balance right through a framework that will promote sustainable long-term economic growth. I hope that all stakeholders now get behind the Bill and work in partnership with the Scottish Government as we move forward."
Key features of the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill include:
- New legal measures for fish farms operators including statutory farm management agreements, requirements for technical equipment standards, and control mechanisms for the operation of wellboats
- Moves to improve the management and governance of District Salmon Fisheries Boards, making them more transparent and accountable, with powers for Ministers to intervene if that is not the case
- Safeguards for the shellfish industry, with measures to ensure shellfish waters continue to be protected from pollution once the EU Shellfish Waters Directive is repealed in 2013
- Powers to impose charges in connection to services provided by Marine Scotland in carrying out of functions relating to fish and shellfish farming, freshwater fisheries, and sea fisheries
- Some additional enforcement powers to support sea fishery officers in carrying out monitoring and investigation duties, and the extension of Fixed Penalty Notices to respond to issues of regulatory non-compliance