Fishing sightings data for 2019 and 2020: EIR release

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

Information requested

I wonder if you could provide us this sighting data but for the past years, 2019 and 2020. We would be interested in getting the data with the following parameters:

  • Year
  • Month
  • Date
  • Vessel Nationality
  • Vessel Type
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Activity
  • ICES Rectangle

If you could also provide some metadata about this dataset.


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.

Attached is a copy of most of the information requested. The normal format for such data would be a "pdf" document, however, while you have not expressed a preference for the format for the data, I have included an "excel" spreadsheet copy of the data as you may wish to manipulate the columns for your own purposes. In addition, as also requested, I have recorded below some metadata in relation to the information.

Column 1 "Nat" - this is the Nationality of the fishing vessel sighted. the code is ALPHA-3 ISO and a list of codes is available here: List of country codes by alpha-2, alpha-3 code (ISO 3166) ( if there are any that are unfamiliar to you.

Column 2 "Type" This is the main type of fishing the vessel engages in. It should be noted that some vessels are capable of fishing with more than one method and the "Type" recorded occasionally may not reflect the actual fishing operation the vessel is engaged in. Where the entry in this column is "-", this indicates that the vessel type is either not known, or has not been recorded at the time of sighting. The overwhelming majority of entries with "-" in this column are for sightings in port where the vessel is tied up and is not engaged in fishing activity.

Column 3 "Date" is the date the sighting was recorded.

Column 4 "Latitude" and

Column 5 "Longitude" is the recorded position of the vessel when sighted. Entries recorded as "00°00.00'S 000°00.00'W" relate to sightings in port.

Column 6 "Area" This relates to the ICES area in which the sighting took place. This is recorded in the format "10XX" where "XX" is the ICES area as it is most commonly referred to. For example "104A" relates to ICES area 4A (or IVa). Where this column is blank, the sighting would have taken place in port.

Column 7 "Rect" This relates to the Statistical Rectangle within which the sighting was recorded.

Column 8 "Activity" This column details what activity the vessel was engaged in at the time of sighting as follows:

  • L = Landing catch
  • T = Tied up in port
  • F = Fishing
  • S = Steaming (in transit, not engaged in fishing operations)
  • O = Other activity

"Other activity" for a sighting in port may indicate. for example, that the vessel is in drydock; while at sea, the vessel may be engaged in guardship duty or other non-fishing activity.

Due to the size of the files we are unable to upload the documents referred to above. If you wish to consider, please contact us at the address below and we will be happy to provide.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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