Trade in Wrasse & Lumpfish by Salmon Farms: EIR release

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


Information requested

Further information on mortalities, welfare problems and diseases of cleaner fish on salmon farms in Scotland since 1 January 2020’ and made specific reference as follows.

  • Please include any photos, videos, documentary evidence and any data on cleaner fish mortalities, welfare and diseases (including sea lice)
  • Please include any Cabinet Briefings, correspondence with salmon farmers, the Nordic Council of Ministers and any other parties in relation to cleaner fish mortalities, welfare and diseases

Information on trade in cleaner fish including imports from England, Wales, Ireland (the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), Iceland, Norway, France and any other countries. In relation to this part of your request you also requested the inclusion of ‘any risk assessments and health certificates of transfers/imports of cleaner fish.

Information should date back to the 1 January 2020 with examples of health certificates for cleaner fish imports from each company – and at least one lumpfish and one wrasse.

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 some of the information you have requested. This includes copies of email communications concerning both the import and the mortality of cleaner fish (wrasse and lumpfish) along with copies of health certificates relevant to all the import sources as requested. Copies of certificates issued both pre and post Brexit are provided for your reference and whilst these certificates do differ, fundamentally they deliver the same thing in terms of health certification and disease attestations.

Please be aware that we may not hold comprehensive records of health certificates as there is no legal requirement to provide these documents to the Scottish Government.

Import information relating to cleaner fish is provided through an excel spreadsheet and this details imports from 3 December 2021 to 1 February 2022 (there were no imports of wrasse in that period). Information relating to imports of cleaner fish, up until 2 December 2021 has been released to you previously through our response to one of your previous requests - FoI 202100259890 which is published on the Scottish Government website:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/

You will note within one of the email communications that reference is made to ‘the paper circulated by <REDACTED> on 7 April 2021’. I can advise you that this reference related to the following two papers which are available in the public domain:

  • Fish welfare in offshore salmon aquaculture. Reviews in Aquaculture (2021) 13 836-852
  • Animal welfare risk of global aquaculture. Science Advances 7 (14) eabg 0677

You will find additional information relating to cleaner fish mortality, welfare and disease through the webpages of the Scottish Government, in particular those concerning the publication of information in relation to Marine Scotland’s aquatic animal health surveillance programme:

https://www.gov.scot/collections/publication-of-fish-health-inspectorate-information/

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. 

It is noted that your request also seeks information concerning ‘risk assessments’. We have explained to you on multiple occasions that the Scottish Government does not routinely undertake risk assessments in relation to the trade in live aquatic animals. In addition, we have also explained to you how trade activity is undertaken with respect to established principles. Please refer to responses issued to FoI 2021002595890 and FoI 202000018313 for further information. We hold no information on the subject area of ‘risk assessments’ in relation to this request.

In addition your request asks for information relating to imports of cleaner fish from England and Wales into Scotland. Scotland is part of the single GB (Great Britain) health zone which includes both England and Wales. Consequently, imports do not occur with respect to movements of stock within a single health zone. There is no requirement for businesses operating in this manner to notify of such movements taking place.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested, as detailed above. Therefore we are refusing these aspects of your request, concerning risk assessment and import information relating England and Wales, under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) (information not held) of the EIRs. We have explained above why we do not hold this information.

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 relating to cleaner fish, specifically with respect to risk assessments and import information concerning England and Wales, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

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.


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.

FOI 202200277100 - Information released

FOI 202200277100 - Information released - Cleaner fish imports

FOI 202200277100 - Information Released - OSH Notification

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

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