Publication - FOI/EIR release

Wild Salmon and Aquaculture Interactions Working Group: EIR review

Published: 16 Jul 2018

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

Published:
16 Jul 2018
Wild Salmon and Aquaculture Interactions Working Group: EIR review

FOI reference: FOI/18/01384
Date received: 19 June 2018
Date responded: 12 July 2018

Information requested

"Information on the 'Interactions Group' and the 'independently chaired working group to look at how we can move forward the dialogue on the interaction between wild and farmed salmon' (as referred to in the Scottish Parliament on 9 May 2018 by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity)."

Response

Further to my letter of 19 June 2018, I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs) for "information on the 'Interactions Group' and the 'independently chaired working group to look at how we can move forward the dialogue on the interaction between wild and farmed salmon' (as referred to in the Scottish Parliament on 9 May 2018 by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity)."

I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.

Wild Salmon and Aquaculture Interactions Working Group.

The original decision applied EIRs exceptions to the information you requested on the Wild Salmon and Aquaculture Interactions Working Group. I will discuss these exceptions in turn.

An exception was applied under regulation 10(4)(a) (information not held). I have concluded that this exception should be upheld as the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. Exceptions were also applied under regulations 10(4)(d) (material in the course of completion) and 10(4)(e) (internal communications) for the following reasons:

  • Regulation 10(4)(d) allows a Scottish public authority to withhold material in the course of completion. As the exception in regulation 10(4)(d) applies, the public interest test was applied and in this instance, as documents related to the request were still in the course of completion, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighed the public interest in making the information available. Therefore the information was withheld.

  • Regulation 10(4)(e) allows a Scottish public authority to withhold internal communications. As the exception in regulation 10(4)(e) applies, the public interest test was applied and, in this instance, as the information requested related to internal communications, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighed the public interest in making the information available. Therefore the information was withheld.

I have concluded that, at the time of the original request, these exceptions were correctly applied. However, time has passed since the original request was made, and information on the Wild Salmon and Aquaculture Interactions Working Group has now been published at https://news.gov.scot/news/supporting-scottish-salmon.

With this in mind, and on re-inspection of the information that was withheld under regulations 10(4)(d) and 10(4)(e), I have concluded that they are now eligible to be released with some redactions. The redacted information continues to be withheld under:

  • Regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications). This is in line with the reason previously stated above.

  • Regulation 11(2)(personal data). This is because the information is personal data of a third party. Disclosing this information 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.

MGSA Interactions Working Group.

The original decision did not provide information you requested on the MGSA Interactions Working Group. I have concluded that your request was misinterpreted to only be seeking information on the Wild Salmon and Aquaculture Interactions Working Group. That you also sought information on the MGSA Interactions Working Group was unfortunately overlooked, and I would like to apologise for your request not being properly handled in this regard. You requested information on:

  • Hence please provide information from when the 'Interactions Working Group' was first discussed and set up (presumably going back into 2012) through to today when, according to Fergus Ewing, the setting up of the group is being "finalised at the moment".

  • In any case, please include Minutes of meetings and correspondence between working group members including the SSPO.

  • Please include correspondence, Cabinet Briefings, internal reports, emails and other information relating to the 'Interactions Group' and the 'independently chaired working group to look at how we can move forward the dialogue on the interaction between wild and farmed salmon'.

  • Please detail the members of the 'interactions group'.

Please see the attached documents. Information not specifically related to the interactions group has been redacted. Some of the information is also available online at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00456584.pdf.

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. Exceptions under regulation 10(4)(d) (material in the course of completion) and regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) also apply. Therefore we are partially refusing your request under the exceptions at regulation 10(4)(d) and 10(4)(e) of the EIRs.

You also requested information on:

  • If the two groups are substantively different please explain and expand

The focus of the MGSA Interactions Working Group was to progress four identified workstreams:

  • Fostering local collaboration between aquaculture and wider interests

  • Fostering greater awareness and perceived inclusivity of the Code of Good Practice

  • Facilitating access by Marine Scotland scientists to detailed information on sea lice; and
  • Fostering a more collaborative approach to wild fisheries management

The Group was placed in abeyance and subsequently disbanded in 2015.

Although the MGSA Interactions Working Group has not met since 2015 there has, and continues to be, regular dialogue involving the two sectors. A recent development in this area was the announcement in 2018 of a new Interactions Working Group that will:

  • Look at the conclusions from the Parliamentary Inquiry into farmed salmon in Scotland

  • Evaluate current Scottish Government policy and advice governing wild/farmed salmon sea lice interactions, and review the existing and planned projects around the interactions

Make recommendations, including a delivery plan of agreed actions and timescales, for a future interactions approach.

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
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