Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has confirmed that new legislation on aquaculture and freshwater fisheries will be introduced in autumn 2012.
Mr Stevenson undertook a series of engagements in Shetland today – the key location for Scotland’s fish and shellfish farming sectors – including a meeting with Shetland Aquaculture to discuss their views on the Scottish Government proposals for the new Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.
The Environment Minister reassured Shetland industry that a thorough analysis of all responses received to the recent consultation on the Bill is currently underway. Further stakeholder engagement will take place during the summer recess, with legislation set to be introduced this autumn.
Mr Stevenson said: “The Scottish Government is firmly committed to ensuring a viable, long-term future for aquaculture and freshwater fisheries, with effective management of interactions between these two sectors. Both these sectors play an important role in supporting continued economic growth in our rural communities, particularly in Shetland.
“That’s why we consulted on proposals for introducing new legislation. The consultation attracted a lot of interest and it’s only right that we take the time to reflect and ensure that the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill is fit for purpose.
“We remain very supportive of the aquaculture industry. The proposals outlined in our consultation back the industry’s aspiration, set in 2009, to increase fish production by 50 per cent and double shellfish production by 2020.
“I’m sure all those with an interest in the Bill will welcome our commitment to further stakeholder engagement over the summer, with an intention to introduce the Bill to Parliament in the autumn.
“To facilitate further discussion around the consultation proposals and consider how these might be reflected in the final Bill, a series of meetings of the Ministerial Group on Aquaculture will now be organised. This provides an excellent forum to talk through the proposals and reactions in greater detail.”