- 7 Mar 2019
Date received: 7 Feb 2019
Date responded: 6 Mar 2019
You asked for information on inspections, surveillance and testing of ova and smolts for diseases, pathogens and viruses since 1 January 2017, in relation to both imported and domestically produced ova and smolts.
You also asked:
- are smolts tested for diseases, pathogens and viruses prior to entry to the sea-water phase of salmon farming production; and, if so
- are smolts tested for ISA, PRV, HSMI, VHS and any other diseases, pathogens and viruses?
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.
Information relating to inspections, surveillance and testing of ova and smolts, undertaken by Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), with respect to aquaculture within Scotland is made available through an active publication plan. Please see the attached link for more details:
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exception under regulation 10(4)(d) (unfinished or incomplete information) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
You can find out more information regarding the surveillance programme for aquatic animal disease control within Scotland on the Marine Scotland web site:
For your information, there is no statutory sampling conducted with respect to ova and smolts prior to their entry into sea water, either in relation to imported or domestically produced animals.
I have explained to you, through responses to other FoI requests, for example see the response issued in relation to FoI/18/03773, that trade with EU member states and third countries can occur in accordance with the current regulations. Trade can only take place between countries, zones or compartments of equal health status or from an area of higher health status into an area of lower health status. This follows the principles of allowing free trade and movement with the provision of appropriate risk mitigation measures, to prevent the introduction of disease with aquatic animal consignements. The process is subject to the appropriate certification by the competent authority in the exporting country and the issuing of a valid health certificate with the relevant assurances made concerning health status.
With respect to domestically produced ova and smolts, Scotland is presently recognised as disease free from all of the listed pathogens within Annex IV Part II of Council Directive 2006/88/EC. Historically, statutory sampling was undertaken from fish farms around Scotland to test for the presence of pathogens which are the causative agents of listed diseases. The results of such testing have proved negative and have supported the application for disease free status which was subsequently approved through the European Commission.
There are no statutory disease controls for pathogens which are not listed within the regulations as either listed or emerging diseases, except for domestic controls in place for clinical cases of Bacterial Kidney Disease. However, you should note that, under The Aquatic Animal Helath (Scotland) Regulations 2009, it is an offence to place on the market, release into the wild or in to a put and take fishery any aquaculture animal which is not clinically healthy.
Farmed fish, including smolts and other stages of Atlantic salmon are tested through the statutory active surveillance programme. Testing occurs in situations where a listed disease is suspected, unexplained mortality is being experienced on site or where the inspector conducts a visit and observes clinical signs of disease, which, in the inspectors opinion, leads to a justification to take samples for disease and pathogen analysis. In such situations the results and findings of those investigations are made available through active publication.
In addition, you may find information published within the Multi Annual National Control Plan useful. This details roles and responsibilities of the different authorities and organisations involved in monitoring compliance with, and enforcement of, feed and food law, animal health and welfare rules and plant health requirements. You can find out more information at the following web site:
I hope that this response clarifies the current situation in Scotland concerning aquatic animal disease surveillance undertaken by Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate and the publication of information regarding the same.
REASONS FOR NOT SUPPLYING INFORMATION
An exception applies
An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion. This relates to cases that are still open and that will have further work done on them and will be subject to further change. We will publish these cases at the link provided in the main letter once they are closed and therefore complete.
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 some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and this will be met by our planned publication. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still in being worked is not disclosed when it might misinform the public.
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