Publication - FOI/EIR release

Wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions: EIR release

Published: 22 Jul 2020

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

Published:
22 Jul 2020
Wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000018305
Date received: 28 Feb 2020
Date responded: 23 Jun 2020
Information requested
  • Please provide information on wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions since 1 July 2018.
  • Specifically, please include emails, letters, correspondence, Cabinet Briefings, media lines and any information relating to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fisheries Management Scotland, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms, Loch Duart, Cooke, The Scottish Salmon Company, Grieg Seafood and any other salmon farming interests in relation to wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions since 1 July 2018.
  • Please include any information on the 'Salmon Interactions Workstream' not already published via 'Note of Actions' and the Wild Salmon Interactions Working Group (subject of a FOI-18-01384 replied by the Scottish Government on 12 July 2018).
  • For example, please provide copies of emails between members of the Wild Salmon Interactions Working Group.
  • Please include any information relating to the 'West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project' led by the Atlantic Salmon Trust (since the Scottish Government disclosed information via FOI-19-02451).
  • For example, please provide copies of emails, letters and other correspondence including any discussions re. the disclosure of information FOI-19-02451, media coverage, press lines and comments in reaction to social media. Please include any information relating to the Aquaculture Interactions Manager job advertised in February 2020 by Fisheries Management Scotland including any discussions on funding, remit, publicity and media.
  • For example, please provide copies of any budgets and financial contributions from the salmon farming industry, Scottish Government and other interests.
Response

Please provide information on wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions since 1 July 2018.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, under the exception at regulation 10(4)(b) of the EIRs a public authority may refuse a request for information if it is ‘manifestly unreasonable’.

The Scottish Information Commissioner’s guidance on the regulation 10(4)(b) exception at:
http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/EIRs/EIRsExceptions.aspx says that there may “be instances where it is appropriate for the Commissioner to consider the proportionality of the burden on the public authority in terms of the costs and resources involved in dealing with a request when considering the application of this exception”

In this case, we have identified over a thousand documents, the costs and resources involved in complying with the request would therefore be disproportionate and why a 20 working days extension to the response deadline (under regulation 7 of the EIRs) would still not make the request manageable. For these reasons, we consider that your request is manifestly unreasonable and so we are refusing it under regulation 10(4)(b).

As the exception is conditional we have applied the ‘public interest test’. This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, considered if the public interest in disclosing 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 about wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions since 1 July 2018 this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring the efficient and effective use of public resources by not incurring excessive costs when complying with information requests.

You may however wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order to make it manageable by focusing on a particular aspect of wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions since 1 July 2018.

You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.
 

  • Specifically, please include emails, letters, correspondence, Cabinet Briefings, media lines and any information relating to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fisheries Management Scotland, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms, Loch Duart, Cooke, The Scottish Salmon Company, Grieg Seafood and any other salmon farming interests in relation to wild fisheries and salmon farming interactions since 1 July 2018
  • Please include any information on the 'Salmon Interactions Workstream' not already published via 'Note of Actions' and the Wild Salmon Interactions Working Group (subject of a FOI-18-01384 replied by the Scottish Government on 12 July 2018).
  • For example, please provide copies of emails between members of the Wild Salmon Interactions Working Group.
  • Please include any information relating to the 'West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project' led by the Atlantic Salmon Trust (since the Scottish Government disclosed information via FOI-19-02451).
  • For example, please provide copies of emails, letters and other correspondence including any discussions re. the disclosure of information FOI-19-02451, media coverage, press lines and comments in reaction to social media.
  • Please include any information relating to the Aquaculture Interactions Manager job advertised in February 2020 by Fisheries Management Scotland including any discussions on funding, remit, publicity and media.
  • For example, please provide copies of any budgets and financial contributions from the salmon farming industry, Scottish Government and other interests.

I enclose a copy of some of the information you have requested (attached separately to covering email).

Some of the information you have requested is available from https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Salmon-Trout-Coarse/salmon . 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 website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

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(s) under regulations 10(4)(d) (course of completion), r. 10(4)(e) (internal communication) and r.11(2) (personal information) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Annex
An exception applies


Regulation 10(4)(d) – material in course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data
An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion.

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 release as part of open, transparent and accountable government.

However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still in being worked on or is under active consideration is not disclosed when it might misinform the public or give a misleading impression of the Government’s view or position on the matter to which the information relates.

Regulation 10(4)(e) – internal communications

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communication between Scottish Government officials about a particular FOI case.

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 release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on a particular FOI case will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that case while it is still under discussion and development.

Regulation 11(2) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party

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

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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
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