- 18 Feb 2019
Date received: 3 Jan 2019
Date responded: 12 Feb 2019
“Previously you told me that based on the online surveys taken by applicants for seal licences in the most recent period (01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018), 133 fish farms were using acoustic deterrent devices and 32 fish farms were using double mesh netting panels.
I wanted to ask some follow up questions.”
You asked that we “…provide all of this information for the most recent period (01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018):
In total, how many of the applicants were granted licences to cull seals?
How many seals were culled during this period?
How many farms that were granted licences to cull seals were not using acoustic deterrent devices?
How many farms that were granted licences to cull seals were not using double mesh netting panels?
How many farms that were granted licences to cull seals were not using either acoustic deterrent devices or double mesh netting panels?”.
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.
As noted in our response to your earlier request (FOl/18/03069), Marine Scotland does not issue seal culling licences, but do determine applications for seal licences under Part 6 of the Marine (Scotland)Act 2010.
For clarification, the aim of a seal cull would be to control or reduce the overall seal population. The purpose of seal licensing is to allow fisheries and aquaculture to undertake limited local seal management of seal predation in order to prevent serious damage to their fisheries or fish farms or to protect the health and welfare of their farmed fish. In this context, it seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between seal conservation and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. The following paragraphs therefore provide information regarding seal licensing· to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish.
Ten fish farm applicants that applied during the application period 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018 were granted seal licences to prtect the health and welfare of farmed fish in Scotland. Please note that an applicant may apply for multiple fish farms in a single application, which is why the number of applicants differs from the number of fish farms authorised in all seal licences granted for this period.
The number of seals killed during the application period 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018 under authority of a seal licence to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish in Scotland is covered by the licensing periods for 2017 and 2018.
This information is available on our website across two spreadsheets, which can be found at the following addresses:
Seal licences granted for the application period 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018 authorise the shooting of seals at 208 fish farms to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish. In the information provided in the online survey, 74 of these fish farms were logged as not using acoustic deterrent devices and 175 were logged as not using double mesh netting panels. These figures include 62 that were logged as not using either. For 1 fish farm, no information was provided at the time of application.
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