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Proposed rules could force some Scottish salmon farms to relocate

New restrictions will limit the use of certain sea lice treatments, and updated environmental modeling could mean some sites will have to relocate to deeper waters with stronger tides.

Some salmon farms could close because of tough new rules being proposed by Scotland's environmental watchdog, reports the BBC.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) wants to reduce the amount of liquid medicines, animal waste and uneaten food from fish farms.

The agency recently concluded a major study that raised concerns about chemical treatments for parasitic sea lice. The study found the chemicals had a longer-lasting environmental impact than previously understood.

New restrictions will limit their future use and an updated environmental modeling could mean some sites will have to relocate to deeper waters with stronger tides.

A dedicated team will be formed to improve monitoring of fish farms, with an increase in the number of unannounced inspections.

"What we've done is some of the best science in the world to upgrade the modeling that's used, to upgrade the assessment that will take place and to enhance the way we ensure compliance and enforcement take place," said Terry A'Hearn, chief executive of SEPA.

"What we hope it means is that fish farms will be sited in the best positions. Some operators may decide to close some sites that are in shallower waters where the environmental impact is bigger [rather than] move to deeper and faster flowing waters. Some may look at containment."

Commenting on SEPA’s Finfish Aquaculture Sector Plan and revised regulatory regime, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) described it as “rigorous” but “enabling."

“This is a rigorous report setting out modern regulation and enabling the industry to grow sustainably over the long term. It is the culmination of years of collaborative work between the Scottish salmon farmers and SEPA to develop a new framework for the gradual and careful expansion of the Scottish salmon sector,” said Julie Hesketh-Laird, CEO of the SSPO.

“We share SEPA’s vision of an innovative, sustainable salmon industry underpinned by clear and accurate regulation. This report will remove many of the barriers preventing the development of more modern facilities further from the shore and we look forward to SEPA’s support as the industry makes this change.”

“We look forward to contributing the consultation.”

SEPA's proposed measures will be subject to a seven-week consultation.

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