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The role of the Fish Health Inspectorate

The Fish Health Inspectorate's (FHI) mission is to support the Scottish Government's vision of a sustainable, growing, diverse aquaculture industry whilst maintaining the high health status of farmed and wild fish and shellfish stocks in Scotland.

Our main objective is to prevent the introduction and spread of listed and emerging fish and shellfish diseases in Scotland. We do this by undertaking statutory inspection and sampling programmes, providing advice to stakeholders and implementing regulatory functions in accordance with the current aquaculture and aquatic animals health regulations. The advice and regulation we provide is backed by high quality research and is delivered with wider collaboration within Marine Scotland, when and where necessary.

Fish health inspectors are appointed by the Scottish Ministers to act as inspectors under the fish health legislation.

Wherever possible, inspectors will advise and assist in compliance with the regulations.

Fish health inspectors carry out inspection and testing of fish and shellfish farms to:

  • maintain the status of Great Britain as an approved zone for various diseases of fish and shellfish
  • fulfil the monitoring required in support of the additional guarantees afforded by the Commission for the importation of live aquaculture animals or products to prevent the introduction of Gyrodactylus salaris and other diseases
  • continue surveillance for Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA)

As part of its national surveillance for notifiable diseases, the FHI samples wild fish from all the major catchment areas and the islands of Scotland.

Diagnostic Service

The FHI provides a free diagnostic service to fish and shellfish farmers and other parties responsible for the care of fish, such as head keepers and ghillies, District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fishery Trusts. It will investigate reports of unexplained mortalities, take samples and diagnose the cause where possible.

Trade in Live Aquaculture Animals and Products

The FHI is responsible for monitoring imports of live fish and shellfish, including non-native species, into Scotland from outside Great Britain. The FHI carries out spot-checks on imports at points of entry and at destination points and also provides movement documents in order to meet the requirements for fish and shellfish moving to other parts of the EU.


The FHI offers a health certification service for fish and shellfish on a recovery of costs basis.

Register of Fish and Shellfish Farming Businesses

Fish and shellfish farmers are required to keep a record of mortalities and movements of aquaculture animals on and off their farm. These records help trace the source and spread of infection in the event of an outbreak of a notifiable disease.

Production Surveys

The FHI carries out annual surveys of the fish and shellfish farming industries to provide statistics and an evaluation of the production of aquaculture species in Scotland.

Application of Movement Restrictions

If the FHI has reasonable grounds to suspect the presence of a notifiable disease on a farm, it may serve controls on the movement of live fish to prevent the spread of disease.

Veterinary Medicines Residues Sampling

The FHI undertakes operations under The Animal and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits)(England and Scotland) Regulations 2015 on behalf of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. This involves:

  • inspecting fish farm medicine records
  • taking samples from farmed fish for veterinary medicines residue testing
  • investigating any positive results

In the future this work may extend to the inspection of feed mixing facilities and the sampling of medicated feeds to ensure homogeneity of mixing of the medicines into the feed.

Unannounced Site Inspections

There is a statutory requirement for the inspectorate to carry out unannounced inspections under the EC Directive 2006/88/EC, EC Regulation 882/2004 and The Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009. Industry stakeholders also requested that unannounced inspections be undertaken by the inspectorate through the consultation process of the Healthier Fish Working Group in 2010.

Quality Assurance

The Fish Health Inspectorate is accredited by the UK Accreditation Service to ISO 17020 standard for inspection and sampling of fish farm sites for fish diseases in accordance with EC Directive 2006/88.

Information Released Under Freedom of Information Legislation

All information released by the Fish Health Inspectorate in response to requests for information made under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 is available online.