A new comprehensive guide, aimed at informing local communities that may wish to engage with fish farm expansion and development proposals, has been published by the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) with the assistance and support of Fish Legal and the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA).
SIFT is a new Scottish charity dedicated to promoting the economically and environmentally sustainable use of coastal waters.
The Aquaculture Information Pack’s primary focus is coastal salmon farms, the most common form of aquaculture in Scotland. It is particularly relevant to the planning system for aquaculture development and it contains full details on which statutory and other organizations do what, where information can be found and what the data means.
Charles Millar, Director of SIFT, said: “The whole planning process regarding aquaculture can be an incomprehensible minefield to communities and members of the public who seek to have their voices heard effectively. The aquaculture industry’s side is inevitably presented and promoted by professionals and the Pack should enable communities to present their views and concerns effectively, thus helping to redress the balance in the planning process.”
SIFT Chairman and Fish Legal solicitor Robert Younger commented: “For too long many communities in western Scotland have been essentially marginalized by the impenetrable complexities of the planning and regulatory system for salmon farming. The aquaculture companies, with the blessing of Scottish Government, aim to increase production by an average of 3-5% per annum over the next five years. As a consequence there will inevitably be a plethora of plans for new farms and the expansion of existing farms. If local communities are to get involved in such plans and become empowered, they will need the best information available. The SIFT Pack provides the tools vital for engaging in the process.”
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign said: “Many people on the west coast and in the islands of Scotland appreciate that poorly-located fish-farms can damage wild fisheries. Others want to protect landscape, public rights of navigation or other nature conservation interests from the harm that aquaculture can do. This pack is designed to help those people have a realistic chance of being heard and have their views taken seriously in the face of overwhelming central Scottish Government support for the expansion of fish-farming.”
The 69-page Pack also contains draft sample letters for communities to use as well as case studies of successful local campaigns. The Pack is at www.sift-uk.org and hard copies are also being made available to west Highlands and Islands communities.