HM Insights

Consolidation of Wellboat Discharge Regulation in Scotland

Following a recommendation made by the "Independent Review of Aquaculture Consenting" in 2016 (an independent review jointly commissioned by Marine Scotland and The Crown Estate to objectively review the entirety of the aquaculture consenting process), and with effect from November 2020, regulation of marine fish farming wellboats and their chemical medicine discharges in Scotland has now been consolidated, by virtue of certain regulatory responsibilities being transferred from Marine Scotland to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

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This means that from November 2020 onwards, SEPA will take on new regulatory powers (in place of Marine Scotland) in relation to the chemical treatment residues from wellboats (adding to their existing regulatory powers of in-pen treatments) in Scotland.  Before this consolidation, vessel operators would have to obtain both (i) a marine licence from Marine Scotland for discharges from wellboats, and (ii) a separate licence from SEPA for the same chemicals being used in fish farm cages.  This system was considered unnecessarily complex. 

The aim of such a consolidation is that regulation will now be strengthened and streamlined, and also that it will now generally be easier to ensure combined discharges from fish farms and wellboats meet environmental standards.

Accordingly, from 9 November 2020, SEPA will accept new applications that would have previously been directed to Marine Scotland.  Further, from 30 November 2020, all existing Marine Scotland licences will transfer to SEPA.   

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