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Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill passes final stage

16 May 2013

The bill to improve the management of Scotland's farmed and wild fisheries has passed its final parliamentary stage.

MSPs approved the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill at stage 3 yesterday and the bill now goes forward for royal assent.

The bill contains new measures for fish farm operators, including statutory farm management agreements, requirements for technical equipment standards, and controls on the operation of wellboats for keeping live farmed fish.

It also provides for the improved management and governance of district salmon fisheries boards, making them more transparent and accountable, with powers for ministers to intervene if a board persistently fails to comply with good governance requirements.

There are 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measures to ensure shellfish waters continue to be protected from pollution once the EU Shellfish Waters Directive is repealed in 2013; and powers to impose charges in connection with services provided by Marine Scotland in carrying out functions relating to fish and shellfish farming, freshwater fisheries, and sea fisheries.

Sea fisheries officers will also have additional enforcement powers in carrying out monitoring and investigation duties.

Speaking after the debate, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said: “I believe we have delivered a bill which is proportionate and balanced and the product of significant stakeholder engagement. It enhances the existing regulatory framework to provide the safeguards we would all expect to ensure sustainable economic growth.

“These sectors – aquaculture (production and processing), game and coarse angling – are worth over £700m with the potential to breach the £1bn mark in the future. They employ some 8,000 people across Scotland, helping to underpin many of our rural communities."

He added: "There is always more work to be done but we continue from a solid platform established through the bill."

During the bill's passage the Holyrood committee in charge of the bill said its scrutiny had been "hindered by some of the more adversarial sections of the aquaculture and wild fisheries sectors", and called on both sectors to set aside their differences and work more co-operatively.

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