Publication - FOI/EIR release

Ministerial and Marine Scotland communication regarding shellfish entitlements: EIR release

Published: 15 Aug 2018

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

Published:
15 Aug 2018
Ministerial and Marine Scotland communication regarding shellfish entitlements: EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01892
Date received: 17 June 2018
Date responded: 10 August 2018

Information requested

Ministerial communication on shellfish entitlements, all minutes, emails and telephone records of discussions with Marine Scotland and same between officials and licence brokers/vessel agents, prior to and after Parliamentary debate on 7 December 2017.

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 reques

Response

I attach some of the information requested. There are 3 documents.

  • Doc 1 Excel sheet providing summary of telephone interviews with licence brokers andvessel agents dated 5 October 2017.

  • Doc 2 E-mail notification to industry (FMAC & iFMAC) on rule change regardingshellfish entitlements dated 7 December 2017

  • Doc 3 Q & A paper circulated at regional Inshore Fisheries Group dated 18 April 2018.

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) (a), 10 (4) (d), 10 (4) (e), and 11(2) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reasons why those exceptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Reasons for not providing information

Regulation 10(4)(a) 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 the information you have requested because the information is not held centrally by Marine Scotland. Within a ten year period licences will have been traded across the UK and both disaggregated and aggregated with shellfish entitlement dropped and gained. It is therefore not possible to provide accurate figures for the period in question.

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 information about fishing licences and entitlements which have been transferred, aggregated and disaggregated across the UK between 2007 and 2017, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Regulation 10(4)(d) Material in the course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data This applies to some of the information you requested. This exception applies because to release the information at this stage would not demonstrate a conclusive policy outcome.

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 strong public interest in maintaining the right to reach a conclusive policy outcome before official documents are released.

Regulation 10(4)(e) Internal communications This applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to internal exchanges and release could compromise our collective ability to reach an agreed policy position.

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 strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between officials whilst we are still developing an agreed policy position.

Regulation 11(2) Personal information This 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 Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. 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

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