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Press Statement on the enforcement of Decision 193/2012

On 23 April 2013 the Commissioner wrote to the parties involved in Decision 193/2012 to inform them that she would be enforcing this decision.  The statement below sets out the background to this unusual case.

 

Decision 193/2012, issued on 26 November 2012, ordered the Scottish Ministers to release information about the numbers of seals killed under licence by salmon farming companies at specific sites.  The Ministers were required to disclose the information by 31 January 2013.

Shortly after the publication of the decision, representatives of the salmon fishing industry contacted the Commissioner to raise serious concerns about its implications.  In doing so, they advised the Commissioner that specific threats have been made to individuals killing seals under licence.  This information had not previously been presented to the Commissioner by the Scottish Ministers.

Reflecting the serious nature of the concerns, the Commissioner decided to delay the enforcement of her decision.  This was to allow the Scottish Ministers to consult with the industry on whether Ministers should ask the Commissioner not to enforce her decision, and to make any appropriate submissions.  This was an extremely unusual step, informed by the exceptional circumstances of this case.

The Ministers subsequently asked the Commissioner not to enforce her decision, and provided submissions to support this request.

Having considered those submissions, the Commissioner has decided she will enforce Decision 193/2012.  She wrote to all parties on 23 April to inform them of this.  The Commissioner recognises and appreciates the serious nature of the concerns raised.  Although some evidence of risk has been supplied, she does not consider that it provides a sufficiently compelling argument that any threats would be more likely to occur or be acted on as a result of disclosure of the location of where seals have been shot.   She therefore requires that the relevant information must be released.  The Commissioner also wishes to remind Scottish public authorities that she expects them to consult with appropriate third-parties during her investigations, to avoid similar situations in the future.

The Commissioner requires the Government disclose the requested information by Tuesday 7 May 2013.

A Report on the Enforcement of Decision 193/2012 is avaialable from the decision webpage.

 

 

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