Publication - FOI/EIR release

West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project correspondence: EIR release

Published: 20 Aug 2020

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

Published:
20 Aug 2020
West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project correspondence: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000052658
Date received: 24 Jun 2020
Date responded: 28 Jul 2020
Information requested

To narrow down the scope of the FOI request please include information since 27 October 2019 on funding/support by the salmon farming sector and dialogue with the salmon farming sector in relation to the West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project and the Aquaculture Interactions Manager job.

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 in December 2019 (the FOI request was filed on 27 October 2019).

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 since 27 October 2019.

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 enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.

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. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in Annex A to this letter.

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 exceptions under regulations 10(4)(d) (material in course of completion), 10(4)(e) (internal communications) and 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: reasons why exceptions apply

The Scottish Government does not have the information
Under the terms of the exception 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 some of the information you have requested because [insert explanation of what it is we do not have, and why].

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 the information you have requested, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold. 

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 of 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.
We consider that this information will be completed by 1 September 2020 and so you may wish to make a further request for it at that time.

Regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications)

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of the EIRs applies to some the information you have requested because it is internal communication between officials about the West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project.

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.

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 West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development. development.

Regulation 11(2) (personal information

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information applies to some of the information requested because it is the personal information of third parties (names, email addresses, phone and fax numbers) 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.

Due to the size of the files we are unable to upload the documents referred to above.
If you wish to consider, please contact us at the address below and we will be happy to provide.

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 Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG