Publication - FOI/EIR release

Series of questions on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): EIR release

Published: 4 Dec 2018

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

Published:
4 Dec 2018
Series of questions on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/18/03508  
Date received: 21 November 2018 
Date responded: 4 December 2018
 
Information requested
 
  1. The relative effort of trawl and creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
  2. The relative catch of trawl and creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
  3. Stock assessments of target species of creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
  4. Bycatch and discards from creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
  5. Quantities and sources of bait used by creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
  6. Loss of fishing gear, and subsequent ghost fishing, associated with creel fisheries, within and outside MPAs?
  7. Loss and subsequent fate of plastic waste, in particular polypropylene rope and twine, associated with creel fisheries, within and outside MPAs?
  8. Physical disturbance of Priority Marine Features (PMFs) by creel fishing within MPAs?
  9. What future work does Marine Scotland propose to undertake in relation to the above issues?
 
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.

 
Please find Marine Scotland’s reply to each part of your request below.
 
1.  The relative effort of trawl and creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
 
Information held on fishing fishing effort is published on the Scottish Government website.  This webpage: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/seamanagement/nmpihome/layers has a list of the datasets that are publicly available. Fishing activity information in NMPi is listed under:
Productive>Fishing
Clicking on a layer will open it in NMPi. Many are available for download. There will be a download symbol in the layers box which will link to a download page, e.g. https://data.marine.gov.scot/dataset/2009-2013-amalgamated-vms-intensity-layers or http://www.spatialdata.gov.scot/geonetwork/srv/eng/catalog.search?node=srv#/metadata/Marine_Scotland_FishDAC_1988.
 
2.  The relative catch of trawl and creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
 
Data on catches are given on NMPi as above but there is no distinction in the data within and outside MPAs. Management Option papers were published for each NCMPA that contain a list of activities that were thought to occur near or within the sites at the time of designation.
Management Option papers for inshore coastal sites can be found on the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) website - https://www.nature.scot/professional-advice/safeguarding-protected-areas-and-species/protected-areas/national-designations/marine-protected-areas/nature-conservation-marine. If you look at the Management Options paper for the Small Isles NCMPA as an example, you can see that Table 1 lists the activities that were thought to occur in or near the site at the time of designation. Activities that are sensitive are discussed in more detail in the document. Section 2e of each site’s Assessment against MPA selection guidelines also has information on whether the features are considered at risk from certain activities.
 
3.  Stock assessments of target species of creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
 
Stock assessments are conducted for stock areas. Marine Scotland Science contributes to ICES advice and details of all the activities related to Nephrops assessments can be found at: http://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/default.aspx#k=Nephrops.
 
4.  Bycatch and discards from creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
 
Observer trips on board Nephrops creel vessels are not currently part of the MSS sampling programme. We have carried out a few trips in the past (West of Scotland during 2008-2010) and recorded Nephrops discards (but not other by-catch species).  They indicated highly variable Nephrops discard rates – between 0 and 40 % of the catch by number with an average of around 10 % over all trips.  However, we don’t know whether these values are indicative of current creel discards rates. (Trawl discard rates in this area have declined since then).
 
5.  Quantities and sources of bait used by creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, within and outside MPAs?
 
We have no information in relation to this point since we are not aware of any requirement for fishermen to record this information. 
 
6.  Loss of fishing gear, and subsequent ghost fishing, associated with creel fisheries, within and outside MPAs?
 
We have no information in relation to this point, as this is not something that we have ever monitored.
 
7.  Loss and subsequent fate of plastic waste, in particular polypropylene rope and twine, associated with creel fisheries, within and outside MPAs?
 
We have no information other than records of fishing related litter collected in IBTS cruises. Marine Scotland Science is a member of the ICES Working Group on Marine Litter (see http://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGML.aspx)
 
8.  Physical disturbance of Priority Marine Features (PMFs) by creel fishing within MPAs?
 
Marine Scotland’s Feature Activity Sensitivity Tool (FeAST), available online - https://www.marine.scotland.gov.uk/FEAST/ - allows you to identify which MPA features are considered sensitive to pressures associated with different activities, including creeling and potting. The tool allows you to search by activity or by feature.
 
As explained at point 2 above, the Management Option papers that were published for each NCMPA also contain a list of activities that were thought to occur near or within the sites at the time of designation.    Management Option papers for inshore coastal sites can be found on the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) website - https://www.nature.scot/professional-advice/safeguarding-protected-areas-and-species/protected-areas/national-designations/marine-protected-areas/nature-conservation-marine. If you look at the Management Options paper for the Small Isles NCMPA as an example, you can see that Table 1 lists the activities that were thought to occur in or near the site at the time of designation. Activities that are sensitive are discussed in more detail in the document. Section 2e of each site’s Assessment against MPA selection guidelines also has information on whether the features are considered at risk from certain activities.
 
9.       What future work does Marine Scotland propose to undertake in relation to the above issues?
 
We plan to continue monitoring the activity and landings of fisheries, assess stocks and monitoring litter. We have no plans to collect information on creel discards, creel bait or lost fishing gear.
We have pointed you towards publicly available information where possible in relation to your questions.  Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. 
There are some questions that you have asked that we are unable to answer because we don’t hold the relevant information.  Therefore, we are refusing these parts of your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs.  The reasons why that exception applies are explained below. 
 
Reasons for not providing information

 

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 the information you have requested because data of the nature requested in questions 5 and 6 has never been collected.

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 creel fisheries, specifically Nephrops, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

 
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