The RYA looks at aquaculture and its potential to affect navigational safety.
As the number of coastal and offshore aquaculture
farms around the UK increases, it is important that the RYA remains engaged
with developers, planners and licensing authorities to ensure safety of
navigation is given full consideration and is not compromised.
The RYA Position
In summary, the RYA believes that the impact of
marine aquaculture developments on recreational boating
can be minimised provided developers fully consider a number of key points.
These are set out fully in the RYA Position on aquaculture.
Clearly the dangers of collision can be minimised
by early consultation, adequate planning and proper navigational risk
assessment to identify relevant site specific issues that must be considered.
The General Lighthouse Authorities must be consulted for guidance on charting,
marking and lighting.
In addition, recreational routes, general sailing
areas and anchorages must be identified and taken into account when planning
and siting aquaculture developments. Developers will find the RYA UK Coastal Atlas
of Recreational Boating
a useful planning tool.
You will find links to useful information including the RYA Position on Aquaculture, with information on navigational safety, risk management and mitigation, at the top right hand side of this page.
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Advice for recreational sailors
Fish farming makes an important contribution to
local economies, particularly in remote areas. When well-planned, aquaculture has
no adverse impact on recreational sailing and indeed there can sometimes be
benefits from sharing facilities.
If you sail in places where fish, shellfish or
seaweed is farmed - such as the west coast of Scotland, the Northern Isles and
Northern Ireland - you will find useful information below about
identifying and sailing around the farms. Depending on where you sail in the UK you may encounter farms for
salmon and other finned fish, mussels, oysters and even seaweed.
Fish farms are not always where you expect them to
be as charts, even electronic ones, are not always up to date. New fish farm
licences can be granted, old ones surrendered and existing farms can rotate
their cages between different sites.
As a result, it
is prudent to download and carry with you the Notices to Mariners giving chart
updates for your cruising area. It is also important to be particularly
alert in conditions of poor visibility as marker lights for the aquaculture
farms may not always be lit.
Give farms a wide berth
Fish cage anchors tend to extend outwards beyond
the cages themselves but are not generally a hazard. It is wise however to give
the cages a generous berth, particularly when a workboat is present. In a few
places a feed store on land is connected to the cages by pipes near the surface
so it is best to avoid passing between cages and the shore unless you are certain
there are no feed pipes obstructing your passage.
Fish are generally brought to and taken away from
fish farms in “well boats” which are small, fast and manoeuvrable coasters.
Keep a good lookout even in remote sea lochs.
Mussel farms often consist of ropes suspended from
a cable supported by large grey buoys (grey to reduce the visual impact for
tourists) and as the mussels mature the buoys sink lower in the water. It is therefore
inadvisable to try to sail through a mussel farm or between the buoys.
Dinghy cruisers and yachtsmen anchoring or coming ashore should note that there are
a few oyster farms in shallow water and they may be unmarked. Hazards include steel cages (trestles) or
steel rods just under the surface.
It is perfectly safe to sail in waters with
aquaculture farms. Good seamanship, particularly with regard to keeping
watch, is the key.
Please inform the RYA at firstname.lastname@example.org
about problems you experience with aquaculture farms, particularly if they are
not well marked or lit.
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