https://marinescience.blog.gov.uk/2016/04/21/regulatory-toolbox-aquaculture-businesses/

Creating a regulatory toolbox for aquaculture businesses

Cefas has created a new on-line regulatory toolbox for the aquaculture industry in England, and I’d like to explain why.

This regulatory toolbox has just gone live on the SEAFISH website. I’ve led the development of this tool, which was funded by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to support new start-up aquaculture businesses.

SEAFISH webpage showing the aquaculture toolkit
The aquaculture regulatory toolbox on the SEAFISH website

Project aims

The main issue before the toolbox was that information about regulations was scattered over the web. So we’ve created a single portal giving access to all the information required to set up a farm from scratch.

This was the aim for this project during its development, and I think we’ve achieved it. So for the first time we’ve brought together widespread guidance on regulatory requirements for new aquaculture businesses in England. It not only covers existing sectors, but also those that are just emerging.

Factors - such as concerns about food and nutritional security, a growing population and increasing demand for healthy products - are all drivers in increasing production of farmed seafood.  Also by increasing production it will boost our economy.

Fish Health Inspector checking shellfish stocks
A Fish Health Inspector from Cefas inspecting shellfish stocks for disease

This is why this toolkit is so important, and why the toolbox aims to simplify and streamline the start-up procedure for businesses in England. It is a useful step towards supporting the development of the aquaculture industry.

Feedback from industry

Since launch we’ve received excellent feedback from operators running businesses or looking to set them up. One of the nicest responses has come from Andy Woolmer, of Mumbles Oyster Company Ltd, who said:

As oyster farm developers this tool will be our first stop in sometimes confusing consenting process.

When we first developed our oyster farm we didn't know who to talk to about the various consents.

This toolbox would have saved a lot of time and ensured that we avoided delays later on.

Multi-phase project

However, we’re not finished as the project has two phases.  Phase one was to provide the aquaculture toolkit.

So the toolkit provides a summary of emerging and existing aquaculture sectors, a quick-look guide and 13 sector specific guides that outline the main regulatory and environmental assessment requirements. It also provides the links and contacts required for each area to help people contact the right government departments.

The tool is hosted on the SEAFISH website and now sits beside other essential aquaculture advice and guidance - including grant availability, working groups, sites and species.  This provides all information for entrepreneurs and existing businesses wishing to grow.

I’m currently planning for phase two. This will take place in 2016 and 2017 and plans to build on this toolkit by providing clarification on other regulatory areas and processes.

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