Scottish marine sediment chemical levels low

Research published yesterday (October 19) by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) suggests levels of chemicals from forestry agriculture and fish farming are actually low in marine sediment off Scotland.

The environmental watchdog has published two reports resulting from its surveillance monitoring programs at nine Scottish sea lochs in 2008 (six lochs) and 2009 (three lochs).

SEPA head of operations for North Scotland Andy Rosie said: “I’m please to say that, for the majority of sites in the surveys, the levels of compounds in the sediments are low indicating there is likely to be limited environmental impact. The majority of samples showed residue levels below the reporting limits for the substances concerned and where positive results arose, the majority were within safe environmental standards. In the small number of cases where safe environmental standards were exceeded, levels were within limits set for the seabed close to fish farm premises.

“This is important research and will be used to inform our work in this area in the coming years. Effective regulation is about assessing risk to the environment, and looking at how it is managed through regulations and authorisations. Directing inspection and enforcement activity at the highest risk and poorest performing operations, while providing better environmental advice and guidance, will enable us to better protect Scotland’s marine environment. By carrying out this important research, SEPA’ s experts can identify any areas of concern, and enable us to target work and resources to improve them.

“However, the results also show that we need to focus further monitoring efforts to learn more about the likely sources of some of these chemicals. The dynamics of the marine environment are complex, making it difficult to interpret the source of the detected residues with certainty. They may have arisen from activities such as those connected with agriculture, forestry or aquaculture within the water catchments.”

Mr Rosie continued: “The majority of farmers, land managers and fish farm operators understand their environmental obligations and work with us to ensure that they remain within the strict limits set out in their licences and authorisations. Where there are problems SEPA will work with the individuals or companies involved to resolve them, but we will ensure that tough action is taken against those who continually fail to meet acceptable standards.”

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Will Parsons

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