- 12 Oct 2018
Date received: 12 September 2018
Date responded: 11 October 2018
- Information relating to breaches of lice limits during 2017 and 2018 on Scottish salmon farms. You further specified that this should include lice data, photos, emails with salmon farming companies, journalists and other parties, warning letters (and any other correspondence), details of FHI inspections and any other visits and other information relating to breaches of lice limits during 2017 and 2018 on Scottish salmon farms. Most of this information has already been published by Scottish Government, having previously been released under the terms of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs), and is available for example here:
The most recent reported sea lice numbers, above reporting and intervention levels are contained in the spreadsheet attached to your e-mail response, as well as a PDF file containing two letters to a salmon farming company.
- annual data (no need for correspondence and the detailed information requested for 2017 and 2018) for breaches of lice limits in the period 2011-2016. Prior to October 2016, as you are aware, there was no requirement to report sea lice numbers to Scottish Government. Data regarding sea lice numbers are occasionally included in inspectors case notes which are publicly available here:
- For clarity, please explain the lice limits and provide documentation detailing what the limits are and when and if they changed during the period 2011 to 2018. A revised sea lice policy was introduced in October 2016, prior to that date there were no set limits, provision for sea lice on fish farms being made in the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007. A topic sheet explaining this policy is available here: https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0052/00522428.pdf
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.
Please find enclosed a copy of most of the information that you have requested.
However, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of 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.
Further, some of the information that you have requested is publicly available on the Scottish Government website. 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.
You will note that some information has been redacted from that which has been supplied. This is because an exception at regulation 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs applies to this information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
The Scottish Government does not have the 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 some of the information that you have requested because, as you will be aware, prior to the revision of Scottish Government’s policy with regards sea lice, introduced on the 25th of October 2018, the only lice data was that collected in association with some cases completed by fish health inspectors. (A link to those cases has been provided above.) Further, we hold no photographs associated with ‘breaches of lice limits’, other than photographs previously released to you, nor does Press Office keep day to day e-mail traffic with journalists.
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 sea lice data, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.
An exception applies.
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested (names of individuals) 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.
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 Andrew's House