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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Farmed cleaner fish utilised by Scottish aquaculture sector: EIR release

Published: 24 Aug 2017

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/01686
Date received: 20 July 2017
Date responded: 18 August 2017

Information requested

1. How many individual wild wrasse and wild lumpsuckers were inputted to Scottish salmon farms for use as cleanerfish in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

2. For each year's total number, what are the percentage of different wild species of cleanerfish used, ie a breakdown of the total number by species: Labrus bergylta, Cyclopterus lumpus, Ctenolabrus rupestris, Centrolabrus exoletus, Labrus mixtus.

3. Where were the wild-caught cleanerfish sourced? For each year and species what percentage by number of fish were sourced from Scotland and England.

4. How many individual farmed wrasse and farmed lumpsuckers were inputted to Scottish salmon farms for use as cleanerfish in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

5. For each year and species (wild and farmed) of deployed cleanerfish, how many cleaner fish were culled out of farms as part of the routine culling of cleanerfish.

6. Does Marine Scotland record the number of wild fish caught or purchased by Scottish salmon farm companies intended for use as cleanerfish.

7. How many individual wild wrasse and wild lumpsuckers were caught or purchased for use as cleaner fish in Scottish salmon farms in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

8. For each year and wild-caught species of cleanerfish caught or purchased for use in Scottish salmon farms, apart from those deployed cleanerfish subject to routine culling, how many mortalities were there during the production cycle and at what stage did the mortalities occur, i.e. during capture; storage; transport or deployment.

9. For each year and farmed species of deployed cleanerfish, apart from those deployed cleanerfish subject to routine culling, how many mortalities were there during the production cycle and what was the primary cause of those mortalities.

10. What research has been undertaken to determine what impact the wrasse fishery in Scotland has had or is having on wrasse stocks and whether it is sustainable.

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.

We do endeavour to provide information whenever possible, and a search of our records has provided the following:

Item 4: we understand that 1.5 million farmed cleaner fish were utilised by the aquaculture sector in Scotland in 2016.

However, we cannot provide the other information requested for the following reasons: Items 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9: we do not have sufficient data on which to base a response.

Item 2: we do not collect or hold Information or data to enable us to calculate or provide a percentage breakdown by species of the cleanerfish used by Scottish salmon farms.

Item 6: we do not currently record or hold information on the number of wild fish caught or purchased by Scottish salmon farm companies.

Item 10: We have not undertaken any research on the impact wrasse fishing in Scotland may have had on wrasse stocks and sustainability.

Exemptions

4. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exemption at regulation 10(4) (a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

The Scottish Government does not have the information Under the terms of the excemption at regulation 10(4) (a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because it is not held.

This excemption 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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about wrasse numbers on Scottish salmon farms, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
24 Aug 2017
Farmed cleaner fish utilised by Scottish aquaculture sector: EIR release