Aquaculture: a problem of management?

Aquaculture's effect on the environment

By Clare Boston

Aquaculture in Scotland has grown considerably since it was first established in the 1960s, commercially cultivating several types of fish including salmon, trout, cod, halibut and shellfish such as mussels, scallops and oysters.  Peel and Lloyd discuss the governance and planning regime for marine aquaculture in Scotland in Geographical Journal. They examine the changing concerns surrounding aquaculture, including water pollution, sedimentation, sustainability and the genetic effects on wild fish stocks, alongside the development of new regulations in response to these problems.  The paper concludes that the development of a regulatory framework associated with a resource management scheme, such as aquaculture, is “time intensive, painstaking in authorship, and vulnerable to the changing external dynamics and internal relations” (p. 371), often being dictated to a large extent by increases in scientific understanding and broader societal changes.

The latest concern to affect Scottish aquaculture is from new research that suggests that parasites and pollution from the excrement of farmed fish is killing wild salmon and sea trout, providing an explanation for a recent decline.  The BBC News website reports that the Salmon and Trout Association has called for a list of ‘ultra-sensitive’ sites to be developed that would be protected against future fish farm development.  They argue that whilst aquaculture, if managed sustainably, can protect wild fish stocks, the way in which fish farms are currently operated is disastrous for the marine environment.  However, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) maintains that warmer seas from global warming are a much greater threat to wild fish.  The debate continues.

D Peel and MG Lloyd (2010). Governance and planning policy in the marine environment: regulating aquaculture in Scotland. Geographical Journal 174: 361-373.

Read the BBC News Online article ‘Protection call for wild salmon and sea trout’.

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