New live fish movement regulations
The new live fish movement regulations replace the two current systems of applying for consent for each fish stocking operation and holding a licence to keep non-native fish in the wild.
The new scheme relies on each fishery having a single and permanent permit to cover all its fish stocking operations, and fish suppliers being permitted to move fish to these waters.
Existing regulations under the Salmon and Fresh Water Fisheries Act and the Import of Live Fish Act are over bureaucratic, difficult to enforce and apply a “one size fits all” approach, regardless of the potential environmental risk for each different fish movements posed. The regulations mean that the Environment Agency can focus on those fish movements that pose the greatest risk to the environment, allowing them to protect fisheries from potentially damaging fish introductions.
All waters that are stocked need a site permit. The permit sets out which species of fish can be stocked into water and whether and which non-native species can be kept in the water. The site permit includes standard and site specific conditions to make sure that these fishery management operations do not pose an environmental risk.
Fish suppliers will also be permitted. A supplier permit allows fish suppliers to move fish for stocking into waters with site permits. They must not stock fish into fisheries without a site permit.
The new legislation should ensure that the right species of fish are stocked into suitable waters, without posing a risk to neighbouring fisheries or the wider environment and the Environment Agency can inspect consignments to make sure everything is in order.
Fishery owners will need to contact the Environment Agency to obtain a site permit. Once obtained the site permit is permanent and fishery owners only need to apply once and there is no charge for the site permit.
The site permit will list the species that may be stocked into the fishery and which non-native fish can be kept at the site. A site permit may cover single still-water, a group of neighbouring still-waters or a section of river. Full details are available on the Environment Agency’s website.
Martin Freeman, Fenn Wright partner and head of the fisheries department says: “It is our interpretation of the new legislation that, were illegal fish movements to take place, the onus will now fall on the fishery owner, whereas in the past the Environment Agency challenged the fish supplier. It is therefore vital that all fishery owners comply with the new legislation to avoid legal action for illegal stocking.”