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Introduction of Freshwater Fish & Ova

Legislation came into force on 1 August 2008 regulating the introduction (i.e. stocking) of all species of freshwater fish within Scotland.

The principal aim of the legislation is to protect native biodiversity from the consequences of stocking non-native fish into Scottish fresh waters. It applies to all stocking of freshwater fish, including Atlantic salmon, trout and coarse fish, to any inland Scottish water system apart from within fish farms (including stocking of brood-stock into hatcheries), or to ornamental fish-keeping facilities such as garden ponds.

It is an offence for any person intentionally to stock any live fish or spawn into inland waters, or possess such with the intention of stocking, without previous written agreement of the appropriate authority:

  • Where a District Salmon Fishery Board (DSFB) operates and the fish to be stocked are Atlantic salmon or Sea trout, then the relevant Board will consider applications to stock. The Board will issue written agreement or refusal to the applicant
  • Where a DSFB does not operate or where the fish being introduced are not salmon or Sea trout (e.g. Brown trout from hatcheries), then it is for Marine Scotland to consider applications and issue written agreement or refusal.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is also an offence to release fish outside their native range and to keep certain species of invasive non-native fish species. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the licensing authority in this respect. If an application for consent to stock fish could also result in one or both of the above offences, Marine Scotland may forward that application to SNH for its consideration as licensing authority in this respect. There is no need to apply separately to SNH for a licence. Further information on SNH licensing requirements is available here.

Application to introduce fish, fry or ova - forms and guidance are available here:

Applications can be printed and completed manually before being submitted to Marine Scotland.

Legislation and Policy

Further information