In response to new legislation in Scotland, SRSL have produced a set of guidelines on how to produce robust biosecurity plans for the marine environment, which will help Scottish marine users prevent the introduction of invasive non-native species and avoid prosecution under the amended Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act. The guidelines were commissioned by the Firth of Clyde Forum and have been published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). SRSL has unique expertise in advising businesses on preparing and implementing marine biosecurity plans, as well as providing training in this area.
- Category: Biosecurity Planning
Non-native species (NNS) are marine species that have been introduced to waters outside their natural range by human action. Human activities such as increased international trade has led to the dramatic increase in the numbers of NNS introduced globally. It is now estimated that invasive NNS cost the marine industries of Great Britain approximately £40 million per year in reduced efficiency, productivity and elimination expenses. The heaviest hit marine industries include aquaculture, fisheries, power generation and shipping. More than 90 marine NNS have been identified from British and Irish waters, of which seventeen are now established in Scotland.
“Responsibility for managing one’s impact on the marine environment and its resources lies with the user. Therefore, no other person is better placed to asses opportunities and implement real changes in managing the risk of spreading invasive non-native species”– Dr Adrian Macleod, SRSL
The guidelines were commissioned by SNH in response to recent changes to the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2001, which is supported by a new Code of Practice on non-native species. The changes mean that it is now an offence to introduce NNS to Scottish waters through commercial or recreational marine activities, even if the introduction was unintentional. The legislative changes empower government agencies to serve Voluntary, Statutory and finally Emergency Species Control Orders (SCOs) on businesses to reverse the situation. Where offences occur, measures taken to eradicate NNS will be financed on a ‘Polluter Pays Principal’, which has the potential to be costly for small businesses, which could be temporarily shut-down and charged for imposed clean-up operations. For this reason, the new Code of Practice sets a precedent for the implementation of Biosecurity Plans for all sites, operations or events in the marine environment.
“The Clyde Forum has been working on marine invasive NNS for a number of years and following the publication of our biosecurity plan for the Clyde and the subsequent revision of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, we felt there was a need to supply some guidance about what best practice in marine biosecurity might look like” - Sarah Brown, Firth of Clyde Forum
A Biosecurity Plan is a document that details the steps a company could take to prevent and control any introduction of NNS. Having a scientifically-defensible Biosecurity Plan, based on current best-practice guidelines can help avoid prosecution and the associated financial cost if something does go wrong; it also highlights a business’ green credentials in responding responsibly to a serious environmental threat.