Know your Scottish Salmon

SEPA – Sea Lice Framework Consultation now open

Public consultation is now open for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) proposed Sea Lice Framework. Following an initial consultation phase in 2021, a second round of public consultations have been announced by SEPA, which will inform the final regulations which are expected to be implemented from the end of 2023. The consultation will close on the 15th September 2023.

For further details and how to submit responses to the consultation click here 



Why we need a sea lice framework- 

Sea lice are a significant, ongoing issue associated with salmon aquaculture. These small parasites occur naturally in wild salmon populations, they attach to and feed on the fish. They are easily transferred to farmed fish populations when the wild salmon swim past the open net pens, multiply and spread rapidly through the farm. However sea lice don’t stay confined just to the fish in farms, they can be transmitted back from farmed fish to wild salmon in the surrounding environment. This can have significant impacts on wild salmon populations, which are already decreasing due to a multiple environmental pressures.  

The sea lice framework aims to address the issue of sea lice transmission from farmed salmon to wild Scottish salmon populations during the migration periods of juvenile salmon, called smolts, from their freshwater birth river to the open sea. This is a period when wild salmon are particularly susceptible to the impacts of sea lice infection, being smaller and younger. Areas which will be covered by this new regulation will be designated as Wild Salmon Protection Zones (WSPZ).  

How will the framework work? 

Computer modelling and ongoing monitoring will be used to help determine areas within WSPZs that are susceptible to increased sea lice concentrations and farms at risk of high sea lice numbers during migratory periods. Farms identified in these areas will be required to implement measures to ensure that sea lice levels in the farmed salmon populations are kept below a defined limit during the migratory period. This modelling will also be used to aid the assessment process of new farm applications, to determine how they will impact sea lice concentrations within a WSPZ if approved.  

Through this framework it is expected that the spread of sea lice from farmed salmon populations to migrating wild Scottish salmon can be reduced, in turn reducing one of the multiple environmental pressures facing wild salmon populations. 

You can learn more about the environmental impacts of salmon aquaculture by clicking here

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