Publication - FOI/EIR release

St. Abbs Eyemouth Area - various fishing vessel questions: FOI release

Published: 30 Sep 2019

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

Published:
30 Sep 2019
St. Abbs Eyemouth Area - various fishing vessel questions: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/01991
Date received: 21 Aug 2019
Date responded: 26 Sep 2019
Information requested

“We are concerned that there may be possible incursions into the  St. Abbs Eyemouth Area, protected by the Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing and Fishing Methods) (Scotland) Order 2004 (SI 276) by fishing vessels using mobile or active gears which are likely to have an adverse impact on the Site. In particular we are concerned about reports of a squid fishery.

As a result we would be grateful if you could respond to the following queries under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act and other appropriate legislation.

  1.  Please let us have copies of any reports on the impact of fishing in the Site undertaken in the last 10 years;
  2.  Please provide vessel monitoring data for the Site for vessels deploying mobile or active gears for the last 3 years;
  3.  Please provide detail of regulations, licences conditions and other measures in place to deter mobile or active gears on the Site; comment – I think this will be a combined effort between us
  4.  Please let us have copies of any reports of breaches of those regulations etc. set out in (3) in the last 5 years;
  5.  Have there been any prosecutions with respect to (3) in the last 3 years, if so please let us have details?;
  6.  What measures have been taken to avoid further incursions and strengthen enforcement with respect to (3) in the last 3 years.
  7.  In particular, what management measures have been taken to protect against a squid fishery in the Site.
  8.  Have any applications been made or derogations granted for a squid fishery in the Site?”
Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information that you have requested.  This can be found at the annex.

An exception regulation 38(1) of the FOISA 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 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.

ANNEX

1. Please let us have copies of any reports on the impact of fishing in the Site undertaken in the last 10 years;

We do not hold any such reports.

2. Please provide vessel monitoring data for the Site for vessels deploying mobile or active gears for the last 3 years;

It is our view that the exception applies here as VMS provides location data and therefore constitutes personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018.

3. Please provide detail of regulations, licences conditions and other measures in place to deter mobile or active gears on the site;

There are no relevant licence conditions in the current fishing licence.

The Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing and Fishing Methods) (Scotland) Order 2004 prohibits the use of mobile or active gear for the period 1 January to 31 December (inclusive) in each year in the St Abbs Eyemouth area. 

Marine Scotland Compliance operates three Marine Protection Vessels and two aircraft.  In addition to this Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) patrols are undertaken, as well as patrols from our network of 18 coastal offices.  All our activity is carried out on a risk assessed basis.

4. Please let us have copies of any reports of breaches of those regulations etc. set out in (3) in the last 5 years;

In our view the exception applies here, and we are therefore unable to provide copies of reports.  However, for the period June 2016 to 21 August 2019 we have received three reports of vessels suspected to be fishing within the St-Abbs Eyemouth restricted area with mobile/active gear.  We have not retained any reports prior to June 2016.

Reports of suspected incursions or activity do not mean or confirm that any kind of illegal activity has taken place.  Further investigation by Marine Scotland Compliance would be required to confirm this.  Furthermore, a report of suspected activity does not mean or confirm that there is even a vessel in the restricted area, or in a section of the restricted area.  Again, further investigation would be needed to confirm this.

A single report may relate to multiple vessels, and multiple reports may all relate to the same event or a single vessel.  Reports may misidentify the activity of the vessel or the method of fishing it is suspected of being engaged in.  Reports received are taken at face value and accuracy cannot be verified until followed up at a later stage.

5. Have there been any prosecutions with respect to (3) in the last 3 years, if so please let us have details?;

There have been no prosecutions in relation to St Abbs Eyemouth closed area.

6. What measures have been taken to avoid further incursions and strengthen enforcement with respect to (3) in the last 3 years.

Marine Scotland Compliance operates three Marine Protection Vessels and two aircraft.  In addition to this, Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) patrols are undertaken, as well as patrols from our network of 18 coastal offices.  All our activity is carried out on a risk assessed basis.

In addition officers from the local Fishery Office (Eyemouth) carry out ad-hoc patrols of the district, which includes shore based observations of the St Abbs Eyemouth closed (mobile/active gear) area.

7. In particular, what management measures have been taken to protect against a squid fishery in the Site.

We are not aware of any management measures in place other than the SSI and the voluntary agreement.

8. Have any applications been made or derogations granted for a squid fishery in the Site?

We have received correspondence in respect of two vessels interested in accessing the closed area but no approval has been granted.

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Contact

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Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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