SEPA statement on proposals for Innovation, Concept or Demonstration fish farm site

  06 February 2017


Anne Anderson, Head of Regulatory Services (North Region) at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said:

SEPA has been asked to take part in discussions around the possibility of establishing a large fish farm (described as an Innovation, Concept or Demonstration site) in Scottish coastal waters on a number of occasions in recent years.

"SEPA has a scientifically robust and well-tested method for assessing the capacity of the environment to cope with the polluting impacts of cage fish farms and so far, our assessments of these proposals have not assured us that the environment, or the interests of neighbouring marine-based businesses could be adequately protected. As long as the rearing of farmed fish in cages relies wholly on the marine environment’s capacity to break-down its wastes, the scale of sea farm units will always be limited by this. SEPA has therefore been unable to approve such proposals to date.

"There has been some discussion about the development of truly innovative techniques to substantially reduce the environmental impact of cage fish farms. One example is new techniques that intercept the waste and allow it to be treated and possibly usefully recycled which would help to reduce the impact on marine ecosystems. If a future proposal included such breakthrough techniques, SEPA would always be willing to assess it. In any industry, we are always encouraging of the development of innovation that can reduce environmental impact. However, we are clear that, until and unless such larger cage fish farm proposals can demonstrate compliance with environmental standards, we will continue to reject them.

"SEPA will continue to regulate this important Scottish industry to ensure it uses sustainable practices to protect Scotland's marine environment and the long-term viability of the industry."