- 18 Jan 2018
FOI reference: FOI/17/03053
Date received: 12 December 2017
Date responded: 15 January 2018
Information relating to meetings, draft framework, timetable and any other details relating to the Strategic Framework for Fish Health Working Group.
Correspondence with the SSPO, Marine Harvest and other salmon farming companies and lobby groups as well as internal Scottish Government discussions and correspondence with SNH, SEPA, Marine Laboratory and other parties.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested in Annex A. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide most of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.
You may also be interested to note that it is our intention to publish online the minutes and documents (including the final Framework) that relate to the working group's activities. The first of these documents are expected to be published by the end of this month. Here is a link to the page that will eventually hold these documents: Strategic Framework for Farmed Fish Health
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA applies to most of the information you have requested. This is because the information requested relates to the ongoing development of the Scottish Government's Fish Health Framework and may prejudice its effective development.
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.
We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information 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, to debate those rigorously and to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on the Fish Health Framework 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.
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 Andrew's House