Fish Drone

Environmental Management Plans (EMPs)

Monitoring the potential impacts of salmon aquaculture facilities on local wild salmonid populations has occurred on the west coast of Scotland for many years, usually in the form of coastal sea trout and sea lice surveys carried out by Fisheries Trusts and government organisations. However, this type of aquaculture impact monitoring has not always been mandatory and the spatial and temporal ranges of long term sea lice datasets vary substantially.

In 2019, the Scottish Government announced that any new marine aquaculture planning applications must include an Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which acts as a formal requirement for the monitoring of possible impacts on the environment. Under this legislation, salmon aquaculture EMPs must be able to:

  1. Report on levels of lice that are released into the environment

  2. Identify areas of lice dispersal from the farm into the environment

  3. Assess potential interactions with wild fish populations

  4. Detail how collected information will feed back to management

  5. Include a regular review process to ensure that the EMP remains fit for purpose.

These EMPs and the data that are collected can inform local authorities about the impacts occurring at a localised level and guide future planning consent.

The wild fish monitoring programmes that form part of the local EMPs in the Skye and Lochalsh area are primarily delivered by SLRT, who monitor sea lice on sea trout populations using a variety of sampling methods such as sweep netting and coastal fyke netting. By leading the wild fish monitoring work, SLRT is able to keep a close eye on wild fish populations and engage immediately with local aquaculture facilities when sea lice levels are observed to be having negative impacts on fish health. The aim of these conversations are to implement adaptive management actions that can be taken on local farms to lessen harmful impacts on wild fish.

The reports from EMP work delivered in the Caol Mor and Loch Alsh, Duich, & Hourn management areas can be found below.

Lice 2
Lice 1
salmon sketch subject to copyright s. mckenzie

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