Publication - FOI/EIR release

Future plan for Scottish fisheries post-Brexit: FOI release

Published: 12 Mar 2018
Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
12 Mar 2018
Future plan for Scottish fisheries post-Brexit: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00351
Date received: 8 February 2018
Date responded: 8 March 2018

Information requested

  • Email correspondence between Fergus Ewing and Scottish Government officials regarding a future plan for Scottish fisheries post-Brexit (date range: 1/6/16-5/2/18);

  • Email correspondence between Fergus Ewing and Scottish Government officials on the adaption of the CFP as a consequence of Brexit (date range: 1/6/16-5/2/18);

  • Email correspondence between Fergus Ewing and Michael Gove regarding a future plan for Scottish fisheries post-Brexit (date range: 1/6/16-5/2/18);

  • Documentation outlining future plans for Scottish fisheries post-Brexit.

Response

I enclose copies of correspondence and documentation which fall within the scope of your request.

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 of exemptions s.29(1)(a) (formulation or development of Scottish Government policy) and s.30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002(FOISA). The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Section 29(1)(a) – formulation or development of government policy

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation and development of the Scottish Government's policy on future fisheries management.

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 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 future fisheries management 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.

Section 30(b)(i) – free and frank provision of advice

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Minister's before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on future fisheries management will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken, and/or these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue.

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 allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Minister's as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's policy position on future fisheries management until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy/decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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