4. What You Can Expect From Us and the Standards to Which We Work
4.1 Courtesy and Helpfulness
We will always provide a courteous service and act in a fair, equitable and consistent manner, without discrimination, in our dealings with you. We will answer telephone calls promptly and introduce ourselves by name. If the person you speak to cannot deal with your enquiry in full, you will be passed to someone who can. If necessary, we will call you back.
We have arrangements in place to promote consistency, including a training programme, accreditation, and effective arrangements for liaising with other authorities, and our policy customers within Marine Scotland. We will ensure that, where possible and practical, our activities are effectively co-ordinated to minimise any unnecessary disruption and delays for those concerned.
We will endeavour to provide advice that is in plain language, user friendly and widely available. We will be open about how we set about our work, including any charges that may be made and bodies that we consult.
4.2 Correspondence and Confidentiality
Applications and requests directed to us will be dealt with promptly and efficiently. We will reply to all communications within 10 working days of receipt. All communication regarding the results of tests carried out on samples from fish or shellfish farms operated by authorised APBs will be sent to the registered business correspondent.
We must consider all requests for information, and will be required to disclose information unless an exemption (under FOISA) or an exception (under EISR) applies. For example, there may be occasions where information is considered as personal data or to be ‘commercially sensitive’: in these circumstances the information would be withheld from disclosure.
Information relating to the inspection and operational activities of Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate is published on a regular basis. Further information on the publication plan can be found on our website.
We will normally contact you before an inspection to agree a mutually convenient time.
When we arrive on site we will introduce ourselves, explaining the purpose of the visit and the legislative authority under which the visit is conducted. We will show you our identification and warrant cards on request. At the end of a site visit we will tell you what we have found and what will happen next.
4.4 Unannounced Inspections
There is a statutory requirement for the inspectorate to carry out unannounced inspections under Regulation 2017/625 as it applies in Scotland and the Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009.
Unannounced visits may also be necessary, for example in the event of an outbreak of a serious disease or when we are investigating alleged offences.
Following an inspection where no samples have been taken, we will provide a follow-up report within 10 working days. This will confirm in writing any points that were raised during the visit and any action you need to take.
Where we have taken samples, we will provide a clear and concise written report of the results of tests carried out. Because some tests take longer than others to perform, the time taken to produce a final report varies, but an interim report will be issued within six weeks of the samples being taken. A final report will be issued within 10 working days of all the test results becoming available.
We send samples for analysis for veterinary medicines residues to the Central Science Laboratory on behalf of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). The results of these tests are normally issued directly from VMD.
4.6 Health Certificates
We will respond to requests for health certificates for placing on the market in the EU for exports to destinations in the EU, EFTA countries and the British Islands in time for the movement to take place, provided five working days’ notice is given. For exports to other third countries more time may be required to assess if the exporting site can meet the import requirements and to conduct , particularly if additional testing if required. is requested. It is the responsibility of the exporter to obtain copies of the necessary certification for exports to other third countries.
4.7 Listed Diseases
We will respond immediately to a notification of the suspected presence of:
- Infection with Gyrodactylus salaris
- Infection with Bonamia ostreae
- Infection with Marteilia refringens
4.8 Unexplained Mortality
We will respond, within one working day, to the notification of unexplained or abnormal mortalities.
4.9 Authorisation of Aquaculture Production Businesses (APBs)
We will serve applicants with a written notice of the result of any completed application within 90 days of receiving it.
4.10 Applications for Permission to Move Fish, Shellfish, Staff or Equipment
We will assess your written application for permission to move live and/or dead fish, shellfish or their eggs, staff or equipment and will provide a decision within 10 working days of receipt.
4.11 Consultation and Communication
We provide scientific advice to MS policy colleagues. We maintain regular contact with other national and international government departments and agencies, such as:
- Department of Environment Fisheries and Rural Affairs (Defra)
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
- Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
- The Crown Estate (CE)
- Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) (previously the State Veterinary Service - SVS)
- Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
- Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD
- Food Standards Agency (FSA)
as well as other stakeholder organisations:
- Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO)
- Shetland Aquaculture (SA)
- British Trout Association (BTA)
- Fish Veterinary Society (FVS)
- Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers (ASSG)
- Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG)
- Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB)
- Association of West Coast Fishery Trusts (AWCFT)
- River and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS)
As part of our duties we may be required to take enforcement action. Any enforcement activity will reflect the Government’s principles on good regulation. Whenever possible we will advise and provide assistance to encourage compliance with the regulations, explaining clearly what constitutes best practice and what is a legal requirement. In situations where immediate action is necessary, we will explain why it is necessary, and confirm this in writing within five working days.
We will ensure that:
- Any enforcement action taken is proportional to the risks posed and the seriousness of the offence. As far as the law allows, we will take account of the individual circumstances of the case.
- Before formal enforcement action is taken, inspectors will provide an opportunity to discuss the circumstances of the case and, if possible, resolve points of difference unless immediate action is required.
- Warning letters, Enforcement Notices and cautions may be issued. Where there are rights of appeal against formal action, advice on the appeal mechanism will be clearly set out in writing at the time the action is taken.
- Where possible and the law permits, we will consider alternatives to prosecution. If a serious offence or persistent minor offences are considered to have taken place, we will investigate. If appropriate, a case for prosecution will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. If the case is proved, the penalties may include a fine.
- Some offences can be discharged using a fixed penalty notice, and in some cases, these may be offered as an alternative to formal criminal proceedings
4.13 Value for Money
We are committed to carrying out our duties in an efficient manner so that costs are kept to a minimum. Currently, there is no charge for most of our regulatory services. Where a charge is to be made, you will be advised of the likely cost to your business before the work is carried out.