Publication - FOI/EIR release

Marine fish farm at Carradale North: EIR release

Published: 16 Dec 2020

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

Published:
16 Dec 2020
Marine fish farm at Carradale North: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000080506
Date received: 26 Aug 2020
Date responded: 21 Oct 2020
Information requested

Information relating to the marine fish farm situated at Carradale North, with reference to the recent escape event occurring in August 2020. Specifically, you asked for the following with reference to ‘applications to Marine Scotland’ in relation to the specifications (of the mooring ropes and system) given by the applicants for the system:

1) Please supply a copy of that application, or a link where I can find it online.
2) Please explain what steps, if any, Marine Scotland takes to check the adequacy of the mooring system for proposed fish farm. If such steps were taken, please supply copies of all specifications, survey and other reports, assessments and copies of all messages exchanged by email or otherwise in connection therewith.
3) Please inform me of any steps that were taken in relation to the said system to inspect it after installation.
4) Given that it is a normal insurance requirement in relation to a vessel that the relevant mooring system shall be periodically inspected, does Marine Scotland require fish farm operators to do so and to file evidence that they have done so? If so please produce copies of all relevant documents for this site.

Following receipt, we requested clarification of an aspect of your request on 28 August 2020 and again on 18 September 2020, with respect to the terminology ‘application’ as well as a date range to which your application relates. Clarification was received on 18 September 2020, confirming that this request relates to the formal application by MOWI (or their predecessors) relating to the current mooring system at Carradale.

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.

The Scottish Government (SG) has several areas of responsibility in relation to containment and mooring specifications concerning aquaculture installations. The Scottish Government, is a statutory consultee in the Aquaculture Planning Process. The Scottish Government has responsibility for granting marine licences in accordance with Part 4 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and conducts inspections of aquaculture sites to ensure satisfactory measures are in place to contain fish and prevent escapes in accordance with The Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007 (as amended).

From an aquaculture planning perspective, information, relevant to planning applications concerning Carradale, is available on the Argyll and Bute Council planning portal:
https://publicaccess.argyll-bute.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple&searchType=Application

Please be aware that the Carradale fish farm is registered as and also referred to as Eilean Grianain, searching for this term on the planning portal will reveal relevant documentations and information relating to the site. The responses issued by the Scottish Government in accordance with its statutory consultee role are available on this website:

https://portal360.argyll-bute.gov.uk/my-requests/document-viewer?DocNo=21304384

We have attached a PDF document detailing the marine licence application for North Carradale, submitted in 2015 and associated relevant PDF documents, which accompanied the application. 

Since the end of 2019, marine licence applications have been routinely published on the Marine Scotland Information (MSI) website – http://marine.gov.scot/. The licence and supporting information associated with the Carradale site is not included, as this predates active publication. Marine Scotland Information is a web portal that provides access to descriptions and information about the Scottish marine environment, and provides links to datasets and map resources that are made available by Scottish Government and Partners.

Information on the suitability of equipment is supplied through the aquaculture planning process. As a statutory consultee in this process, the Scottish Government considers the assessment made on the suitability of the proposed equipment for the environmental conditions on the site in question. This may be provided through a site specific attestation from the manufacturer or other suitably qualified person, and is accepted on the basis that equipment will be installed in accordance with the relevant guidance, i.e. A Technical Standard for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture (STS) in order to meet the requirements of best practice as specified within the Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture (CoGP) (Chapter 4, points 4.8 – 4.38).

In lieu of this, equipment specifications detailing the environmental conditions the equipment can withstand may be provided and assessed against the details of the environmental conditions expected at the location of the site to ensure compatibility. This is in line with the requirements of best practice as specified within the Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture (CoGP) (Chapter 4, points 4.8 – 4.38). Please be aware that at the point of the Carrdale application, in 2015, the STS was not part of the consideration undertaken by the statutory consultee as this had not been adopted at that point.
http://nationaltelfordinstitute.org.uk/publications/SCOTTISHTECHNICALSTANDARD_00479005_2015.pdf
http://thecodeofgoodpractice.co.uk/

In addition to aquaculture planning and marine licensing, the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) in the Scottish Government undertakes surveillance in the form of enhanced inspections in accordance with The Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007 (as amended). These inspections are conducted to ensure that Aquaculture Production Businesses have satisfactory measures in place to contain fish, prevent escapes and recover escaped fish. Satisfactory measures are currently assessed against the relevant provisions within the CoGP – specifically chapter 4, points 4.13 – 4.16. Meeting these provisions would demonstrate evidence of installation and maintenance/service schedules. Results and outcomes of inspections, along with any records that are maintained as part of any case, are published on the SG website:
https://www.gov.scot/collections/publication-of-fish-health-inspectorate-information/

Further information about the work and activities of the FHI, including those relating to containment and fish farm escapes, is available on the Scottish Government’s website:
https://www.gov.scot/policies/fish-health-inspectorate/

Exceptions apply
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 you have requested because we do not hold and retain copies of all specifications, survey, other reports and assessments in relation to the mooring system regarding the fish farm Carradale. The information we do hold concerning this subject area has been released to you.

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 the mooring specification at Carradale, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some the information requested 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.

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.

Contact

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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG