October 18, 2011
Fish farming could be banned in some coastal areas in a bid to protect wild fish stocks, BBC Scotland has learned.
Anglers and landowners have claimed that parasites from farms are at least partly to blame for declines in wild salmon and sea trout.
Now the Scottish government may follow the example of Norway and restrict the spread of farms.
The fish farming industry said there was no evidence that parasites were threatening wild fish stocks.
Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson was interviewed as part of a BBC Scotland investigation into fish farming.
When asked if new legislation planned for later this year might see farms banned from areas that are important to wild stocks, he replied: "Of course it may do - and we'll consult on that. Everything is open for discussion.
"But we have to have the consultation, we have to understand in the environment we have in Scotland what the effects of different options would be."
Mr Stevenson also revealed he is considering forcing salmon farmers to publish information about lice levels on specific farms, a measure which has been called for by critics of the fish farm industry and which has been implemented by the Norwegian government.
However, Steve Bracken from Marine Harvest, Scotland's largest salmon producer, said there was not enough evidence to suggest that parasites - known as sea lice - were responsible for any declines in wild fish stocks.
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Posted by Pool 32 Admin at 18.10.11