A novel method of assessing the impact of fish farms has been introduced by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.
The new way of setting limits to the amount of fish in cages (the biomass) may help the industry achieve its plans to develop environmentally friendly larger-scale operations in deeper tidal sites.
The procedure will allow farmers operating in deep water with strong tidal currents to hold a larger quantity of fish.
It may also have a number of spin-off benefits, including lower production costs and the consolidation of production on larger sites. This may allow producers to move farms away from the mouths of important salmon rivers and constricted bays and therefore reduce the impact on the environment.
Fish farms and their supplier customers will be able to use the new method to boost the image of the industry.
SEPA is using a computer modelling system called AutoDepomod to predict the effects of fish farms on the environment and determine where monitoring around sites should take place. It will also be used for setting the biomass limits.