Ministers in Scotland have announced a new law to clean up its fish farms to protect the environment from further pollution and to stop any disease from spreading to their wild salmon stocks.
Farms will be asked to publish the weekly figures of sea lice levels and create tougher control targets.
Fergus Ewing, rural economy secretary, told MSPs that the first in the “broad programme reform” is to improve the fishing industry.
“Taken together, the new measures signal a major shift from self-regulation to statutory regulation. They also seek to move to an approach that supports prevention through robust and independent monitoring,” Ewing added.
This new plan comes after the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) published a new regulatory framework to help the finfish aquaculture sector of Scotland. Tighter limits on fish farms waste products will be implemented, along with improved monitoring on farms, and “a shift to siting farms away from sensitive areas in the future.”
Ewing added that the new legislation will take effect in 2020, which will force farms to be more responsible when it comes to sea lice infestations and to be more transparent to other problems that might arise in the future.
Ewing said sea lice were “ubiquitous in the marine environment and have the potential to impact on wild and farmed fish,” and it has also been one of the main reasons why Atlantic salmon population greatly declined years ago.
“People are rightly upset and angry after shocking revelations of the appalling conditions in many of our salmon farms and there are real fears that the industry’s plans to double annual production will cause needless suffering to millions of fish,” MSP Mark Ruskell said in a statement.
Claudia Beamish, Labour MSP, added that “the Cabinet Secretary must ensure that any plans for the closed containment of fish will be fully tested against animal welfare standards.”