Publication - FOI/EIR release

Vacasay Salmon Farm: EIR release

Published: 6 Nov 2018

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

Published:
6 Nov 2018
Vacasay Salmon Farm: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02916  
Date received: 7 October 2018 
Date responded: 5 November 2018
 
Information requested
 

You asked for the following information concerning the Vacasay Salmon Farm, CAR/L/1005041 (Vacasay, Roag): 

1. Dates of all site visits and inspections by Marine Scotland (MS) staff in 2018 to date.

2. Details of those visits and inspections, such as times, whether the farm was inspected, how it was inspected, which pens were inspected.

3. Data gathered from observations during any site visits and inspections. What data was gathered, what data was offered?

4. Specifically what information and data was collected by MS staff during 2018 to date regarding treatments applied for the management of sea lice.

5. All correspondence between MS and The Scottish Salmon Company regarding Vacasay, during 2018 to date.

6. Details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and Scottish Ministers (and the staff of their offices) regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date.

7. Details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and any other regulatory UK bodies or agencies (and the staff of their offices) regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date.

8. Details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date.

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.

1. Dates of all site visits and inspections by Marine Scotland (MS) staff in 2018 to date. 

There have been two inspections conducted by Mairne Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) during the time period of your request. These took place on 07/08/18 - case number 200180326, and 05/09/18 - case number 200180429. 

2. Details of those visits and inspections, such as times, whether the farm was inspected, how it was inspected, which pens were inspected. 

The details of those inspections are contained within the enclosed information (FHI case information and Fish Health reports). In both cases a physical onsite inspection was conducted. Please find attached a link the the FHI Service Charter which may be useful to you to learn more about the operations and activities of the FHI:

https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/FHI/charter 

3. Data gathered from observations during any site visits and inspections. What data was gathered, what data was offered? 

Details of the inspections are contained within the FHI case information and Fish Health reports provided. These contain a record of the information collected and inspected during the visit. In addition we have collected movement record data of live fish movements into and out of the site where such have occurred prior to the inspection on 07/08/18 and 05/09/18.

FHI case information and Fish Health reports are published as part of an active publication plan, with publication occurring on a quarterly basis three months in arrears. You can find this information on the Scottish Government website –

https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/FHI/CaseInformation 

In this case, as the information you have requested has not yet been published, we have provided copies of the same to you, as indictaed in response to point 2 above.

4. Specifically what information and data was collected by MS staff during 2018 to date regarding treatments applied for the management of sea lice. 

Where records of information concerning treatments for sea lice have been collected these are made available through the FHI case information. In addition we may hold some treatment information in relation to the reporting of sea lice levels undertaken in conjunction with the following policy: 

https://www2.gov.scot/resource/0051/00516518.pdf  

Much of this information has already been requested through previous Freedom of Information requests. This information is made publicly available on the SG website:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/ 

In addition to published information, please find attached a small amount of additional information relating to Vacasay within the attached excel spreadsheet. 

5. All correspondence between MS and The Scottish Salmon Company regarding Vacasay, during 2018 to date. 

Please find a copy of all correspondence enclosed. This incudes communications with respresentatives from The Scottish Salmon Company (TSSC) as well as mortality event reports received from TSSC. We have redacted some information from that supplied because an exception at regulation 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below. 

6. Details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and Scottish Ministers (and the staff of their offices) regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date. 

We do hold some information relevant in relation to press enquiries and Scottish Parliamentary Questions (SPQ). Two SPQs relate to your request although they are not exclusively relevant to Vacasay on its own but concern the wider environment within which the Vacasy site operates. Further detail regarding the formulation of responses to these SPQs, along with web links to published responses are provided within the annex of this letter. 

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information relating to press enquiries and the formulation of responses to SPQs because an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below. 

7. Details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and any other regulatory UK bodies or agencies (and the staff of their offices) regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date. 

Please find a copy of all such correspondence enclosed. We have redacted some information from that supplied because an exception at regulation 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex to this letter. 

8. Details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date. 

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested under this part of your request. 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 in the Annex to this letter. In relation to the relevant points above and where I have referred to publicly available information, please be aware that 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.

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 the information you have requested because we have not corresponded with the SSPO on the subject of Vacasay salmon farm during 2018.

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 Vacasay salmon farm, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Exceptions apply. 

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. 

A further exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to the information you requested at point 6 of your request (details of any briefings and correspondence between MS staff and Scottish Ministers (and the staff of their offices) regarding Vacasay salmon during 2018 to date) because it is internal communication about SPQ answers, press lines and lines to take. 

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. 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 officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in briefing for SPQ answers, press lines and lines to take. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly answer Parliamentary questions, provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest. Further, as the final versions of this advice are published in the answers to Parliamentary Questions S5W-18863 (http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S5W-18863&ResultsPerPage=10)  and S5W-18876 (http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S5W-18876&ResultsPerPage=10), and in press articles  (https://theferret.scot/sick-salmon-scottish-fish-farm-film/) the public interest in the release of the information is met.

About FOI

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

foi-18-02916 Table

XLSX
14.9 kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

 
The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 
Edinburgh 
EH1 3DG