Publication - FOI/EIR release

Information relating to mortalities at Loch Tralaig: EIR release

Published: 11 Mar 2021

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

Published:
11 Mar 2021
Information relating to mortalities at Loch Tralaig: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000109111
Date received: 9 Nov 2020
Date responded: 8 Dec 2020
Information requested

Information on mortalities at Loch Tralaig (operated by Kames Fish Farming) - data, Excel spreadsheets, emails, letters, reports, photos and any other information relating to mortalities at Kames Fish Farming since 1 January 2017.

In addition to your request for recorded information you also posed a series of questions numbered 1- 4 and a statement number 5, as detailed below:

1) Is Kames also guilty of the failure to report mass mortalities?

2) Is the failure to report mortalities an offence?

3) Perhaps Kames has been slow in reporting and merely needs a helpful reminder from the Fish Health Inspectorate?

4) Since Kames is not a member of the SSPO does that mean Kames is not obliged to report mortalities?

5) Since Loch Tralaig is a freshwater salmon farm it does not seem to be governed by reporting requirements, in terms of mortalities by weight, via Scotland's Aquaculture Responses to these questions and the statement detailed above are provided as part of our reply to this FoI request.

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.

Information held by Scottish Government in relation to ‘mortalities at Loch Tralaig (operated by Kames Fish Farming)’ is contained within the case information and mortality reports associated with the Scotland’s aquatic animal health surveillance programme. The results and findings of the same are published on the Scottish Government website:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/fish-health-inspectorate-mortality-information/

In addition to this, attached is the case paperwork and report relating to case 20200392. This case, which relates to Loch Tralaig, has been completed but is still awaiting publication through our active publication plan.

I have also included some internal communications concerning handling of your email complaint in relation to Loch Tralaig and a Scottish Government statement issued in response to a media query regarding the same.

This information represents the records we hold with respect to data, correspondence and photographs concerning the subject area of your request. We hold no further relevant information with respect to your request.

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.

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

With respect to your specific questions concerning mortality reporting, I can advise you that the voluntary reporting agreement established through the recommendations of the Healthier Fish Working Group applies to all salmonid fish farms within Scotland. The industry as a whole has agreed to follow this and report mortalities in accordance with the reporting criteria.

In addition to the voluntary agreement detailed above, a statutory responsibility to report increased mortality exists through The Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009. Reporting increased mortality to the competent authority (the Scottish Ministers) or a veterinarian is a legal requirement where this is known or suspected within aquaculture animals. Increased mortality is further defined through Council Directive 2006/88/EC and it is important to consider this requirement in line with that definition[1].

Fish farm site and record inspections undertaken at Loch Tralaig, in accordance with the aquatic animal health surveillance activities, suggest that there is no evidence that Kames Fish Farming are failing to report mortalities, either through the voluntary or statutory requirements detailed above.

As you have correctly observed, there are no records of ‘mortalities by weight’ in relation to Loch Tralaig within Scotland’s Aquaculture website. SEPA provide this information to the database and can be contacted directly if you have any further queries on this aspect.

[1] Council Directive 2006/88/EC - Annex 1 – Definitions - j) ‘increased mortality’ means unexplained mortalities significantly above the level of what is considered to be normal for the farm or mollusc farming area in question under the prevailing conditions. What is considered to be increased mortality shall be decided in cooperation between the farmer and the competent authority.

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Contact

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

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