You asked for ‘details of planned and unplanned inspections at Scottish salmon farms and slaughterhouses since 2019’ and a request to ‘provide details of findings at these inspections’.
All inspections are planned to a lesser or greater extent. We have interpreted your request to relate to announced and unannounced inspections, being the terminology used within Marine Scotland with respect to stakeholder notification and awareness of our inspection and surveillance programmes.
Furthermore, given the context of your request we have interpreted the term ‘slaughterhouses’ to relate to processing plants and harvest stations dealing with farmed salmon in Scotland.
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.
Some of the information you have requested concerning details of announced and unannounced inspections of fish farm sites and their findings is published on the Scottish Government web site. Publications relate to the following activities:
- Inspections relating to aquatic animal health surveillance, within Scotland at both fish farm sites and processing plants/harvest stations: https://www.gov.scot/collections/publication-of-fish- health-inspectorate-information/
- Inspections relating to seawater fish farm sites and the use of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs): https://www.gov.scot/collections/marine-scotland-reporting-statistics/
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. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
In addition to the information above we have also undertaken an unannounced inspection of a fish farm in Loch Etive on 27 February, where no ADDs were found. This would not yet be included in the published statistics. No other inspections have been undertaken at this time.
An exception applies
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 an exception under regulation 10(4)(d) – material in the course of completion - of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies is that some of the information requested relates to open and ongoing inspections (cases) concerning aquatic animal health surveillance, and that information will be subject to further change.
Once completed and cases have been closed, then the information will be published in line with our publication plan and will become available from the web links above.
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. We recognise that there is some public interest in the release of information relating to inspections of fish farms and processing plants/harvest stations from cases which have not yet been completed or concluded. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in providing information which accurately reflects the activities and their findings and which won’t be subject to further change.
You can find out further information concerning the work conducted by Marine Scotland in relation to the Fish Health Inspectorate as well as Marine and Fisheries Compliance at the following web links:
In addition, you may wish to consider contacting other public authorities who also inspect fish farms and/or processing plants/harvest stations). Such organisation may have additional information to that held by Scottish Government and could include:
- the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency
- the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) https://www.sepa.org.uk/
- as well as various local authorities - https://www.mygov.scot/organisations
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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