Information released by Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham in an answer to a question tabled in the Scottish Parliament by Mark Ruskell MSP, of the Scottish Greens. Details below.
11 December 2020
Index Heading: Economy
Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Green Party): To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports of illegal scallop dredging in marine protected areas and other areas closed to such activity, and what information it has regarding whether any of the vessels being investigated have (a) been fitted with remote electronic monitoring equipment and (b) received any public funding relating to COVID-19 relief.
Roseanna Cunningham: Since March 2020, Marine Scotland Compliance has received a number of reports, involving 6 vessels, in relation to suspected illegal scallop dredging in MPAs or other closed areas. Marine Scotland Compliance fully investigates all reports of suspected illegal fishing, including suspected illegal scallop dredging, to the extent that the evidence allows and appropriate action is taken where necessary. Of the vessels involved, two have Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) equipment fitted and the others do not. As a result of the impact of Covid-19, emergency hardship support of up to £21,370 per vessel paid to the owner, or up to £42,740 to businesses operating more than one vessel was made available to over 12 metre vessels landing shellfish. A list of successful business awarded funding is available here:https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/competition/transparency/public.
My questions are below -
1 - Can you tell me which boats/skippers/firms were investigated please?
2 - Can you tell me if any of these boats/skippers/firms had received covid relief funding please? If they had received public money, and were not supposed to be fishing, which relevant authorities have been informed - eg Police Scotland? HMRC? - and when were they informed?
3 - Are you aware of any on-going criminal investigations taking place into these incidents?
4 - Can you tell me what was the outcome of each of Marine Scotland's investigations please?
5 - Can you specify where these alleged illegal dredging incidents took place please?"
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 attach a copy of some of the information that you have requested. This can be found at the annex.
An exception regulation 11(2) of the EIRs 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.
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.
FOI - 202000125754 - Information Released - Annex
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Central Enquiry Unit
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The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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