Activists call for Fisheries Bill to help wild waters

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New legislation provides the chance to reform Scotland’s fish farming industry, environmental campaigners have said.

The Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill should send a message to fish farmers that growth in the sector “must not come at the expense of the environment”, the Scottish Wildlife Trust said.

The Scottish Government hopes legislation just introduced to Holyrood will help the industry develop in a sustainable way.

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Scotland is home to economically significant aquaculture and freshwater fisheries sectors.

“They are critical to the economies of many remote and rural communities, as well as making important contributions to the wider Scottish economy. Farmed salmon is now recognised as our most valuable food export, and wild salmon and trout fishing is a key tourism draw.”

The bill, if passed, will introduce legal measures for fish farm operators, including a requirement for them to meet technical equipment standards. It aims to safeguard the shellfish industry by ensuring waters continue to be protected from pollution.

Alex Kinninmonth of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “This bill could be incredibly important for maintaining and improving the quality of Scotland’s coastal waters and rivers, which support iconic species such as Atlantic salmon and sea trout.”