Publication - FOI/EIR release

Field trials of Imidacloprid (Ectosan/BMK08) by the salmon farming industry: EIR release

Published: 1 Sep 2020

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
1 Sep 2020
Field trials of Imidacloprid (Ectosan/BMK08) by the salmon farming industry: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000038615
Date received: 20 May 2020
Date responded: 5 Aug 2020
Information requested

1) ‘..details on any proposed, in progress and completed field trials of Imidacloprid (Ectosan/BMK08) by the salmon farming industry in Scotland since 2017.’ You further qualified this part of your request by stipulating that this ‘would involve documentation pertaining to any field trials - however illegal, unsanctioned, aborted, unfinished an/or still in the pipeline - in 2019 (or even earlier) as well as any field trials in Loch Ailort by Mowi and other companies at other locations in Scotland during 2020.’
2) ‘..information relating to the possible misreporting of chemical use in salmon farming since 2017.’
3) ‘..information on discussions at a national/UK level with the VMD and other government agencies about Formalin and other chemicals used in freshwater and marine aquaculture since 2017.’
4) The inclusion of ‘emails, letters, internal discussions, Cabinet Briefings, reports, environmental assessments and any other information relating to the above since 2017.’

Clarification of your request was undertaken with regards to the terminology of misreporting, the scope of the request with respect to aquaculture species and in relation to the ‘other chemicals’ to which your
refer in point 3. Clarification was requested on 9 June 2020 and your response was received the same day informing us that:
With respect to misreporting – this should include information in relation to SEPA, but also more generally.
The request is relevant only to farmed Atlantic salmon.
The request is relevant to chemicals including Imidacloprid, Azamethiphos, Deltamethrin, Hydrogen Peroxide, Emamectin benzoate, Teflubenzuron and Oxytetracycline, as well as ‘new ones’ coming on to the market.

Response

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39 (2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I shall deal with points 1) and 2) of your request individually:

1) details on any proposed, in progress and completed field trials of Imidacloprid (Ectosan/BMK08) by the salmon farming industry in Scotland since 2017.
The Scottish Government does not hold marine licences or similar documentation for the legal discharge of Imidacloprid/Ectosan/BMK08 as none have been issued by Marine Scotland, nor have any applications been made to Marine Scotland. The Scottish Government has not licensed any field trial(s), nor have we reports of any activity for which a licence would have been needed. Marine Scotland is not aware of any unlicensed activity in this regard.

2) information relating to the possible misreporting of chemical use in salmon farming since 2017.
We note in your request you refer to a communication released under a previous response to an FoI request (FoI/19/02442) – an advisory letter concerning the deposition of chemicals from a well boat without a Marine Licence. I can confirm, since request FoI/19/02442, concerning information on the discharge of salmon farming well boats and 1 January 2018, there have been no further advisory letters issued of the same nature to that which you reference from FoI/19/02442. In relation to this request, we hold no further information with respect to the misreporting of chemical use in salmon farming, since your last requests made on 23 October 2019 (FoI/19/02443), 5 December 2019 (FoI/19/02626) and 17 March 2020 (FoI 202000021523 and FoI 202000021335). There may be information relevant to your current request within the responses to these historical requests and indeed other requests handled such as FoI/18/02680 from 25 September 2018. Responses to requests for information, where information is provided, are published on the Scottish Government website:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/

For your information, Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate do not routinely receive reports on chemical use in salmon farming and therefore hold no information on misreporting of the same.
Information relating to chemical use is often obtained as part of the FHI’s aquatic animal health surveillance programme, the results and finding of which are actively published on the Scottish Government website:
https://www.gov.scot/collections/publication-of-fish-health-inspectorate-information/

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested with respect to parts 1 and 2 of your request. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) (Information not held) the Scottish Government does not hold information relevant to this part of your request, as detailed above. This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information concerning field trials of Imidacloprid and information relating to the possible misreporting of chemical use in salmon farming, as detailed above, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

I shall deal with points 3) and 4) of your request collectively:

3) ‘..information on discussions at a national/UK level with the VMD and other government agencies about Formalin and other chemicals used in freshwater and marine aquaculture since 2017.’

4) The inclusion of ‘emails, letters, internal discussions, Cabinet Briefings, reports, environmental assessments and any other information relating to the above since 2017.’ 
Please find enclosed a copy of some of the information you have requested. This includes internal discussions within Scottish Government and Marine Scotland, external discussions with third party stakeholders including The Scottish Salmon Company, other government agencies and departments including the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, The Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Food Standards Scotland.

Most of the information provided relates to a positive result from the Kyles of Vuia fish farm site for the residue Emamectin benzoate from samples taken by Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate, as part of the statutory surveillance programme for residue testing. The information includes: Follow up communications with the fish farm company (The Scottish Salmon Company) to establish additional details of treatments and treatment records Communications with Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) concerning the frequency and volume of treatments Communications between VMD and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) regarding any food safety issues
Discussion with VMD on follow up actions Please be aware that the information provided to you may not necessarily be the final version of discussions or decisions where these involve third parties, but this  represents the information Scottish Government holds on this subject.
As a matter of context to the Kyles of Vuia case, FSS confirmed that no food related incident had occurred. The VMD suggested that there was evidence that the medicine had been used in breach of the Veterinary Medicine Regulation as the treatments were applied out with a recommendation in the product’s market authorisation. VMD confirmed that on this occasion no further action would be taken. The prescribing veterinarian of the company concerned was informed of the breach and reminded of regulatory requirements and acknowledged the VMD advisory letter which confirmed the VMD’ s view regarding the marketing authorisation recommendation.

In relation to some of the information released you may find the website of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate useful for further information on chemical use including the use of authorised products and the use of chemicals under the cascade system: 
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-cascade-prescribing-unauthorised-medicines

You may also find some relevant information to your request on the Scottish Parliament website, in particular under the parliamentary business section detailing motions, questions and answers search:
https://www.parliament.scot/index.aspx

I note in your request you specifically mention formalin. Formalin can be administered as a medicinal treatment or as a biocide e.g. for disinfection and for your clarification I have provided some background information to you in Annex 1 of this letter.
As you will be aware, SEPA licence activities under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011. The licence will specify the substances or products permitted to be used and may include conditions for use. SEPA will be able to advise you on any reporting requirements they have for formalin and other chemicals / treatments used. You can find out further information on their website: https://www.sepa.org.uk/

In addition to the above, Scotland’s Aquaculture site also provides information in relation to CAR licences and treatment reports: http://aquaculture.scotland.gov.uk/

In addition the following web links may also have information concerning chemical and medicine use which you may find of interest:

https://www.environment.gov.scot/data/data-analysis/marine-fish-farm/
https://www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/water/aquaculture/medicines-and-chemicals/

You may also find information, relevant to this request, which has already been provided through responses to previous FoI requests, including, but not limited to:
FoI/19/01398; FoI/19/01528; FoI/19/02442; FoI/19/02443; FoI/19/02537 FoI/19/02626; FoI 202000021335 and FoI 202000021523. The link to any publicly available information associated with the same has been provided above.

Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.
As stated above, our aim is always to provide information whenever possible, however in this instance, with respect to parts 3 and 4 of your request, some further exceptions apply. 
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

In addition, an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information requested. This has been applied to internal communications, which have taken part within Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate and which relate to the drafting and composing of emails and responses to external stakeholders in relation to Kyles of Vuia. The final versions of these drafts were issued and have been released as part of this response. This exception is subject to the public interest test. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate.
However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which Ministers and officials can exchange free and frank advice and views. Applying the exception in this case allows officials the private space, to discuss, review and exchange views over third party communications and it is clearly in the public interest to allow this to occur, especially where the information is being provided to you through the final responses which were issued.

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Contact

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Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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