- 21 May 2019
Date received: 11 Apr 2019
Date responded: 9 May 2019
You asked for the following information –
1. How many times has Marine Scotland or the FHI been contacted by whistleblowers/concerned parties/staff raising concerns from within the salmon farming industry in the past 5 years?
2. What issues have been raised by existing and or former staff from the salmon industry in the past 5 years?
3. What action has been taken as a result of whistleblowers/concerned parties/staff raising concerns in the past five years?
4. What months did harvest take place for the last two full production cycles and any current cycle for the following sites (see sites listed below)?
5. What was the live weight harvest for each month in which harvest took place at the following sites (see list below) for the last two full production cycles and any current cycle?
i) Carradale (north and south)
iii) Am Maol, Isle of Muck
iv) Isle of Ewe
v) Erisort (north shore west)
vi) Erisort (north shore east)
viii) Maol Ban
x) Poll na Gillie
xii) Quarry Point
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.
Marine Scotland (MS) does not maintain a record of ‘the number of times MS or the FHI have been contacted by whistleblowers, concerned parties or staff raising concerns from within the salmon farming industry’. We do receive ‘reports of concern’, from both within and out with the salmon farming industry and in situations where these reports are investigated further then the results and actions taken are actively published. Please be aware that publication occurs following case completion, then on a monthly basis one month in arrears.
Publication includes the activities and outcomes of our aquatic animal health surveillance programme which can be located on the Scottish Government website at the following link - https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/FHI/CaseInformation.
Reports received from third parties, subject to further investigation, are recorded with the case type ‘REP’. To facilitate you searching through the various published documents I have provided a list of case numbers to which REP case types have been assigned for the time period relating to your request. Please be aware that REP cases will include:
- reports from out with the salmon farming industry e.g. concerns raised by wild fishery stakeholders or members of the public
- concerns raised from within the salmon farming industry
- notifications of specific situations on individual fish farm sites, for example increased or unexplained mortalities, suspicion of disease or suspected escapes, and
- cases associated with fish farms, shellfish farms, put-and-take fisheries as well as wild fisheries where investigations have been conducted – these have been differentiated in the list provided
It may not always be possible to determine where a report of concern has originated from with respect to the records which are published.
Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information that is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.
In relation to points 4 and 5 of your request, the Scottish Government does not hold this information. Therefore we are refusing these elements of 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.
For your information, Scotland’s Aquaculture website (http://aquaculture.scotland.gov.uk/) contains monthly biomass information on a site by site basis. Where biomass changes from month to month, this will incorporate harvesting activity but will also include mortality, escapes and stock movement both on and off site, where any of these activities have taken place. I’m afraid that, from the information published it is not possible to distinguish biomass changes by cause or reason and therefore this information cannot give you reliable data on harvesting.
Reasons for not providing information - Annex
The Scottish Government does not hold 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 the Scottish Government is not responsible for this subject. Information on production cycles and harvests is held by the relevant aquaculture production companies, and not by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government publish an annual production survey based on returns from aquaculture businesses, but this does not include monthly harvesting information at the site or sector level. The latest available Annual Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey is for 2017 and can be downloaded from our website - https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-fish-farm-production-survey-2017/.
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 information relating to harvests on fish farms, 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