- 15 Aug 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/01886
Date received: 10 July 2018
Date responded: 14 August 2018
Information on any reports to the Animal and Plant Health Agency in relation to farmed salmon from 2013 onwards.
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 have considered your request in relation to the context you provided, specifically the welfare of farmed fish.
As you are aware, Marine Scotland's Fish Health Inspectorate does not have any regulatory responsibility in terms of animal welfare. Where, through our aquatic animal health surveillance activities, inspectors become aware of welfare or potential welfare issues then these will be raised with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). APHA have the regulatory responsibility to take any welfare issues forward in accordance with the legislation under which they operate.
Following FHI surveillance there have been occasional instances where inspectors have reported welfare concerns to APHA. These communications are largely undertaken by telephone and, for the time period of your request, we hold no specific written records regarding the same. In such circumstances, the information relayed to APHA would include the details of published case information. For example case number 20130530 demonstrates this situation – please note that with respect to this particular case APHA were previously known as the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHVLA). Further details and information concerning the surveillance activity undertaken by the FHI is actively published:
I would also like to confirm that Marine Scotland's FHI hold no information relating to enforcement, advice, warning letters, care notices or evidence passed to the Procurator Fiscal in accordance with the context and scope of your request.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because we hold no details of communications or correspondence with the Animal and Plant Health Agency which have been made during the time period of your request.
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 about reports to the Animal and Plant Health Agency in relation to farmed salmon, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference:
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House