Salmon Scotland issues furious response to new ‘streamlined’ regulations

Editorial Staff

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has released a new regulatory framework on aimed at protecting Scotland’s wild salmon population.

On Thursday, Salmon Scotland, the trade group representing salmon farmers, responded to the new framework from SEPA, making its disappointment clear.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, expressed concern over the increased regulations, noting a lack of clarity from SEPA on how the success of these new measures will be measured.

“We support regulation based on fact, evidence and sound science,” said Scott. “Now the sector faces not that, but more regulation.”

The framework, available on SEPA’s media page, was designed in response to the declining numbers of wild salmon in Scotland, attributed to various factors including habitat degradation, invasive species, and the impact of commercial aquaculture.

“The Scottish Government commissioned Professor Russel Griggs to conduct an independent regulatory assessment; his recommendations were all accepted by ministers and were for better, more streamlined regulation,” said Scott.

“We support measures to address the decline in the population of wild salmon in Scottish waters. The Scottish Government has previously identified more than 40 pressures on wild salmon stocks, of which sea lice is just one. We are still waiting to see what government and its many agencies are going to do on the other identified pressures,” said Scott.

The decline of wild salmon stocks in the North Atlantic is a significant concern, with numbers dropping from 8-10 million in the 1970s to about 3 million today, according to SEPA.

Wait and see

Salmon Scotland’s response follows a February 2022 endorsement of a report highlighting deep-seated conflicts within the industry and between regulators and stakeholders. The report by Griggs described unprecedented levels of mistrust and vitriol, complicating relationships within the sector.

In response to this report, the Scottish Government initiated changes to production license agreements and overhauled industry regulations.

The Salmon Scotland board is scheduled to meet next week for a full assessment of the new SEPA regulatory framework.