Publication - FOI/EIR release

Marine Scotland statutory enforcement action : FOI release

Published: 24 Sep 2019

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
24 Sep 2019
Marine Scotland statutory enforcement action : FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/01985
Date received: 12 Aug 2019
Date responded: 9 Sep 2019
Information requested

“…details of all statutory enforcement actions undertaken by Marine Scotland in the last three years. This should include dates, locations and descriptions of all actions, including, but not limited to, written warnings, fixed penalty notices, and verbal warnings.  Where Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued, please indicate whether these notices were subsequently paid by the recipient, or in the case of non-payment by the recipient, whether  further action was taken by Marine Scotland  through referral to the courts.”
Which you subsequently clarified to mean:
I am content to receive information on written and verbal warnings broken down by number, local office and year, if possible.
It would also be helpful if you could provide data on the number of "repeat offenders" by location - those operators that have received multiple written or verbal warnings over the three years.
I understand it may not be possible to release personal data on individuals, but where companies have been subject to any type of enforcement action I'd be grateful if you could provide information on the companies that have been subject to statutory enforcement action, or repeated written and verbal warnings.”
It would also be helpful if you could provide data on the number of "repeat offenders" by location - those operators that have received multiple written or verbal warnings over the three years.”

 

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information that you have requested.  This can be found at the annex.
An exception under regulation 38(1) of the FOISA (personal information) 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 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.
Furthermore, the information in relation to 2019 applies up to 12 August as it is not yet possible to provide full year data.

ANNEX

  • “…details of all statutory enforcement actions undertaken by Marine Scotland in the last three years. This should include dates, locations and descriptions of all actions, including, but not limited to, written warnings, fixed penalty notices, and verbal warnings.  Where Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued, please indicate whether these notices were subsequently paid by the recipient, or in the case of non-payment by the recipient, whether  further action was taken by Marine Scotland  through referral to the courts.” 

I have attached to this response an Excel Spreadsheet which contains the following information.

Advisory Letters
Advisory letters issued from Fishery Offices, Marine Protection Vessels (MPV) and the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre (UKFMC). This is split by calendar years for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 12 August 2019.  Full year data for 2019 cannot yet be provided.  Please note that due to the seasonality of fishing, weather conditions, levels of assessed risk and other factors there may be more advisory letters issued at certain times of the year than others.

Verbal Rebriefs
Verbal Re-briefs issued from Fishery Offices, Marine Protection Vessels and the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre. This is split by calendar years for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 12 August 2019.  Full year data for 2019 cannot yet be provided.  Please note that due to the seasonality of fishing, weather conditions, levels of assessed risk and other factors there may be more verbal rebriefs issued at certain times of the year than others.

Written Warnings
Written Warnings issued from Fishery Offices, Marine Protection Vessels, the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre and Surveillance and Enforcement Branch. This is split by calendar years for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 12 August 2019.  Full year data for 2019 cannot yet be provided.  Please note that due to the seasonality of fishing, weather conditions, levels of assessed risk and other factors there may be more warning letters issued at certain times of the year than others.

Fixed Penalty Notices
Fixed Penalty Notices are issued from Surveillance and Enforcement Branch (SEB) as all Fixed Penalty Officers are located within this branch. 
This is split by calendar years for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 12 August 2019.  Full year data for 2019 cannot yet be provided.  I have included the number of Fixed Penalty Notices paid for each respective year and if not paid, the number of these cases referred to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to prosecution.  Please note that due to the seasonality of fishing, weather conditions, levels of assessed risk and other factors there may be more Fixed Penalty Notices issued at certain times of the year than others.
If an FPN remains unpaid, a case will be referred to the COPFS for consideration of prosecution unless the provisions of section 31 of the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007 are subsequently found to apply after issue of the FPN. 

Referral to COPFS
Cases submitted direct to Procurator Fiscal from Surveillance and Enforcement Branch. This is split by calendar years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 up to 12 August 2019. Full year data for 2019 cannot yet be provided.  It should be noted that for the 24 cases referred to the COPFS in 2017, 23 of these arose from a single investigation.

Repeat Offenders

  • “It would also be helpful if you could provide data on the number of "repeat offenders" by location - those operators that have received multiple written or verbal warnings over the three years.”

I am unable to provide this information.

  • “I understand it may not be possible to release personal data on individuals, but where companies have been subject to any type of enforcement action I'd be grateful if you could provide information on the companies that have been subject to statutory enforcement action, or repeated written and verbal warnings.”

Actions Against Companies
The majority of enforcement actions taken have been against an individual rather than a company.  For the small number of actions where the person involved may have been working for a company, the suspected offender is normally a responsible person acting on the company’s behalf, or is liable as an individual through being an owner.  As such, it is our opinion that the exception applies here.

  • “It would also be helpful if you could provide data on the number of "repeat offenders" by location - those operators that have received multiple written or verbal warnings over the three years.”

I am unable to provide this information.
 

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