Publication - FOI/EIR release

Imports of salmon smolts: EIR release

Published: 24 Aug 2021

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

Published:
24 Aug 2021
Imports of salmon smolts: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100221565
Date received: 8 Jul 2021
Date responded: 18 Aug 2021
Information requested

Information on the import of salmon smolts since 1 January 2018 including any health certificates, import/export documentation, emails, letters and other information. Please include correspondence with Mowi, the SSPO, Grieg Seafood, other salmon farming interests, EFTA Irish government agencies and other parties in relation to the import of salmon smolts since 1 January 2018.

In addition, as context to your request, you referred to some published information (aquatic animal health surveillance conducted by Scottish Government) which concerns the ‘listing of an incorrect destination site’ in relation to a health certificate associated with an import.

Your request was clarified on 19 July to confirm extent of import information being requested. You confirmed, also on 19 July, that the request was only relevant to the import of smolts into Scotland and that you were requesting all documentation (as opposed to a summary) with respect health certificates and import documents.

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.

I attach a copy of the information you requested which includes:

  • a table of import data associated with salmon smolt imports into Scotland for the time period 1 January 2018 to 8 July 2021
  • copies of health certificates (where we hold the same)
  • copies of import notification forms (where we hold the same)
  • some communications, both internal and external, concerning the subject matter of you request

Redaction of information
You will note that redactions have been applied to some of the information provided to you and have been undertaken for the following reasons:

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.

In addition, some information contained within the communications relating to this request has been redacted where it is considered to be out of scope in terms of its relevance to your request. This has been highlighted to you within the information released.

Further context
It is important to consider the information provided to you in line within the further context below as part of the response to your request.

Within your request you referred to the listing of an incorrect destination site with respect to a health certificate and detailed an import to Sconser Quarry rather than Sconser (the actual destination of the imported stocks). In this case the situation arose as a genuine misunderstanding when communicating information regarding the export. In response, the Marine Institute, the competent authority for aquatic animal health in Ireland, issued a further certificate with the correct destination site listed - Sconser.

Whilst the activity of placing imported stocks directly on to a site which they are not destined for (as per the health certificate) is a technical breach of the regulations, the detection of this through our statutory surveillance programme allowed appropriate communications to be made to investigate the issue further and address it. At no point, within this case, have we had any concerns from a fish health or fish disease perspective as there were no changes to the health attestations on the revised certificate and the activity did not affect the health status of the receiving site. Just to clarify further, with respect to Sconser, we don’t hold copies of the reissued certificates or the originals, just the front pages which are provided to you through this response.

There is no requirement within the current legislation for the importer to supply Scottish Government with a copy of the health certificate. Copies which are held have been sent to us voluntarily. Under The Trade in Animals and Related Products (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and with respect to imports from EU Member States, regulation 5(2) states that ‘the consignee of the incoming certificate must keep the certificate mentioned in paragraph 1(b) for at least three years’. As a result, copies of certificates can be inspected through the Scottish Government’s programme of Aquatic Animal Health surveillance. This requirement has been revoked as of 31 December 2020.

Since 1 January 2021 there is now no requirement for importers to notify the Scottish Ministers directly of intended or planned imports from EU Member States as was previously the case. Instead, notifications are now submitted electronically via the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS).

As a consequence of the above it is important to realise that the information being provided to you, in relation imports, may not be a comprehensive and complete record but we are providing you with the information that we hold, in relation to your request.

For publishing purposes - 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 them.

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

dPlease 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