Publication - FOI/EIR release

Marine Scotland's enforcement in suspected illegal fishing activity: EIR release

Published: 5 Dec 2019

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

Published:
5 Dec 2019
Marine Scotland's enforcement in suspected illegal fishing activity: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02531
Date received: 15 Nov 2019
Date responded: 27 Nov 2019
Information requested

You asked for:

“1. …..any data held as to products or installations fitted on board a fishing vessel, used for enforcement purposes by Marine Scotland in respect of suspected illegal fishing activity that show all of the following:

  • Exact position of vessel; and
  • Direction of vessel; and
  • Speed of vessel; and
  •  That the fishing vessel was actively involved in fishing.

2. Please provide any data held as to products or installations fitted on board a fishing vessel of any size used for enforcement purposes by Marine Scotland for suspected illegal fishing activity, which show when a fishing boat is actively engaged in fishing activity with gear in operation.

3. Please provide any data held as to the level of evidence required by Marine Scotland in respect of an offence for suspected illegal fishing activity in order to attempt to meet the burden of proof to a criminal standard that a vessel was engaged in illegal fishing activity. If there is any data as to training material for Marine Scotland personnel as to the collation of evidence before commencing a prosecution for suspected illegal fishing activity, please provide this also.

4. Please provide any data held as to guidance or policy of alerting fishermen when it is suspected that they are within a restricted area potentially illegally fishing in order to alert fishermen and any warnings given following on from positional data of the fishing vessel within a restricted area is requested.

5. Please advise how many prosecutions have been started by Marine Scotland based entirely on positional data of a fishing vessel (with or without any interpretational data on positional data in support), that does not have any supporting aerial or surface water surveillance evidence or the like to evidence or corroborate fishing activity alongside the positional data.

6. Please provide any data as to whether Marine Scotland would commence a criminal prosecution against a fisherman for suspected illegal fishing activity in a restricted area based entirely on IVMS data or VMS data and the interpretation of that data.

7. Please provide data on any initiatives by Marine Scotland to assist fishermen to ensure that they are aware of where the restricted fishing areas are and when the boundaries change.

8. Please provide any data held as to any data sticks or navigational aids to be provided by Marine Scotland to assist fishermen with updating their navigational equipment to keep up to date with changes to the boundaries of restricted fishing areas.

9. Please provide any data held as to concerns, problems or issues raised by Marine Scotland or fishermen to Marine Scotland as to malfunction, error or the like of units fitted on board to provide positional data to Marine Scotland as to the position of the fishing vessel.” 

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

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 an exception(s) under regulation(s) 10(5)(b) of the EIRs applies to that information. 

This is where disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the course of justice or the ability of any public authority to conduct an enquiry of a criminal nature.  The reasons why that exception(s) applies are explained in the Annex.

ANNEX
An exception applies
An exception under regulation 10(5)(b) of the EIRs applies to some of the information you have requested.  

This is because disclosure of training material or guidance or operatonal policies used by enforcement officers could reveal the methods and techniques used in law enforcement and could therefore potentially jeopardise the effective enforcement of infringements of the law.

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 because there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate.  However, this is outweighed by the public interest in not revealing the methods and techniques used by enforcement officers in criminal law enforcement and which could therefore potentially jeopardise the effective enforcement of infringements of the law.

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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 Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG