Proposals to strengthen regulation of finfish aquaculture outlined in new SEPA consultation

  26 June 2017
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has today (26 June 2017) announced proposals for the future regulation of fish farming in Scotland, and is inviting comment on its plans for the sector.

Members of the public have until 31 August 2017* to comment on proposals to revise the way SEPA licences control the amount of waste a fish farm can release, through a new approach called Depositional Zone Regulation (DZR).

The new proposals, which can be viewed at, use new computer modelling to better predict environmental impacts, increase the level of environmental monitoring undertaken by SEPA, and make it more attractive for operators to locate fish farms in less sensitive areas with stronger tidal flows by allowing for progressive increases in stocking beyond a starting biomass. Under these proposals, growth must only occur where the combination of appropriate siting, and new techniques and processes, mean the environment can sustain it.

SEPA is also inviting views on the findings of an independent review of the Environmental Quality Standard for the in-feed sea louse medicine Emamectin Benzoate.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA’s Chief Executive, said: “Aquaculture is an important and ambitious industry in Scotland, but can have an adverse impacts on the environment. Ensuring that this vital sector operates within the capacity of our world-class coastal environment is essential, and a key objective for SEPA.

“We want to strengthen and modernise our regulatory controls so that the risks to Scotland’s environment from existing fish farms and future new farms are minimised.

“In our Regulatory Strategy One Planet Prosperity we made it clear that compliance with legal obligations is not negotiable, and is the minimum we expect of all those we regulate in every sector. We believe the proposals laid out in this consultation will help fish farms to take positive steps towards reducing their environmental impact in a way that also delivers economic and social benefits.

“This is a sector that draws strong and often divergent views. We want to hear from as many people and interests as possible across Scotland to inform the finalisation of our proposals.”

SEPA expects to consult on its Sector Plan for finfish aquaculture in early 2018. This plan will set out how the Agency proposes to work with operators to ensure full regulatory compliance and help operators go beyond compliance to achieve environmental excellence.


*This date was extended until 30 September 2017. The consultation and call for information has now closed.

Notes to editors

Depositional Zone Regulation and Emamectin Benzoate EQS

View all the documents at

Sector Plan for finfish aquaculture

Read our earlier SEPAView article about proposals to develop a Sector Plan for finfish aquaculture at: