Publication - FOI/EIR release

"West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project" correspondence: EIR release

Published: 11 Mar 2020

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

Published:
11 Mar 2020
"West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project" correspondence: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000019153
Date received: 11 Feb 2020
Date responded: 10 Mar 2020
Information requested

You asked for:

Any and all correspondence, no matter how related, email (or any other electronic means), telephone records and letters sent and received by Marine Scotland in relation to a project titled "West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project" being undertaken by the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Fisheries Management Scotland.

Additionally please provide all correspondence (as previously defined) between Marine Scotland and the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Fisheries Management Scotland within the context of this project from 27 Oct 2019 to date.

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.

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 of exceptions under EIR regulations: 10(4)(e) (Internal Communications),10(4)(d) (unfinished or incomplete information) and 10(5)(e) (confidentiality of commercial or industrial information). The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in the Annex.

We have also redacted text (some names, e-mail addresses, phone and fax numbers) which may disclose personal data where such disclosure is not permitted in terms of regulation 11(2) of EIRs. 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.

Some of your request related to material already in the public domain, I enclose links below. These relate to material that came into the scope your request, where the West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking project was mentioned:

There is a reference to the project in the response to S5F-03858 (Wild Salmon Stocks- Question 5-Peter Chapman): http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12459&i=112634

The Project is referenced in the following press release: https://www.scottishlandandestates.co.uk/news/saving-our-wild-salmon-making-salmon-conservation-national-priority

In addition to the information provided please see below some publicly available articles which may be of interest, where the project is mentioned: http://fms.scot/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Summary-of-Salmon-Conservation-Parliamentary-Meeting.pdf

https://atlanticsalmontrust.org/making-salmon-conservation-a-national-priority/

The project was mentioned in a recent meeting of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. You might be interested to read the minutes of that meeting, and refer to column 9 in particular. http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12487&mode=pdf

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION ANNEX
An exception applies

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of the EIRs applies to some the information you have requested. Regulation 10(4)(e) allows a Scottish public authority to withhold internal communications.

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. We recognise that there is some public interest in releasing these documents, however this is outweighed by the public interest in allowing officials a private space within which to communicate as part of the process of developing policy, this private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. As these documents relate to early policy discussions, relating to a project which had not reached its final conclusion, and would therefore potentially be open to misinterpretation. This is a three year project scheduled to complete in 2022.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is material relating to the process of drafting text. The finalised version of this text has been released as part of this response.

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. The draft text could be open to misinterpretation and the finalised text is released as part of this response.

An exception under regulation 10(5) (e) (confidentiality of commercial or industrial information) of the EIRs applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided, related to those involved in the project.

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 a public interest in disclosing this information, however there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies when substantial harm can be made to their commercial interests.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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