Publication - FOI/EIR release

Seals killed by salmon farmers since 1 January 2020: EIR release

Published: 10 Mar 2021

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

Published:
10 Mar 2021
Seals killed by salmon farmers since 1 January 2020: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000118346
Date received: 2 Dec 2020
Date responded: 1 Feb 2021
Information requested

Please provide information on seals killed (including the reporting of seals killed and any discussions  on the killing of seals) by salmon farmers since 1 January 2020.

Please include data, copies of licences, returns, email correspondence, letters (e.g. to NOAA), Cabinet Briefings, discussions of seals being killed and reported and any other information relating to the killing of seals since 1 January 2020.

This information would certainly include any forms or data relating to seals killed to alleviate suffering as detailed via https://www.gov.scot/publications/marine-licensing-seals-killed-to-alleviate-suffering/

In terms of data available, Scottish Salmon Watch cannot find any data online for 2020.

Please also provide any information since 1 January 2020 on seals killed illegally or unreported.

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.

1. I am providing copies of some of the information you have requested.

In 2020 there were 27 licences issued by the Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (MS-LOT) authorising the killing of seals to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish in Scotland. PDF items 1 to 33 provided to you are copies of all 27 of the original licences issued, and also 6 variations to licences made. These licences were granted by the Scottish Ministers for the period from 1 February 2020 until 31 January 2021.

Data held by Marine Scotland in relation to the killing of seals since 1 January 2020 is either already published online, or found in the form of returns. These returns are completed via web portal only accessible by the applicants themselves, but the information is subsequently reported on our Scottish Government web pages. Please see point 2 of this response below for details of how to access online the data and returns made for 2020 to date.

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.

On 28 September 2020 the Scottish Government published a report (the second statutory review of the operation of the seal licensing system in Scotland under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010) which covers the improvements since the last review and makes recommendations for the future operation of the system. You may wish to view this report found at the following web link:  https://www.gov.scot/publications/second-review-operation-seal-licensing-system-under-marine-scotland-act-2010/

2. In your request you stated that “In terms of data available,” your organisation “cannot find any data online for 2020.” The answers to your questions are provided below:

This data is published at the end of a full licensing year and will be available for the 2020 licences in due course after 31 January 2021 (which is the end date of the 2020 seal licences issued).
 

  • In your email you stated that “the data for 2020 reported by OneKind and The Ferret in June 2020 appears to have vanished.”

I can now confirm that the links you refer to in the articles (links to the articles given below) now work again and refer the reader to the Scottish Government web site where the data to date for 2020 is available: Marine licensing: seal licensing records, 2011-present - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

- https://www.onekind.scot/ban-on-seal-shooting-must-be-watertight/
- https://theferret.scot/seal-shooting-doubles-before-ban-comes-into-force/

3. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold any information on seals killed illegally or unreported since 1 January 2020.

Therefore we are refusing part of your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reason why that exception applies is explained in the Annex to this letter.

4. 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 exceptions under regulations 10(5)(b) (The course of justice, etc.) and 11(2) (Personal information of a third party) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reason why these exceptions apply is explained in the Annex to this letter.

Due to the size of the files we are unable to upload the documents referred to above. If you wish to consider, please contact us at the address below and we will be happy to provide.

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