Publication - FOI/EIR release

Inquiries under the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act since 1998: EIR release

Published: 28 Jun 2021

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

Published:
28 Jun 2021
Inquiries under the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act since 1998: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100205486
Date received: 24 May 2021
Date responded: 22 Jun 2021
Information requested

Access to the reports of any inspector appointed by the Scottish Ministers to carry out an inquiry under Schedule 1 of the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967 since 1998. I would also like any information concerning the decision of the Scottish Ministers whether to grant or refuse an application under the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967 following an inquiry in the same period.

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.

In relation to the first part of your request, after an extensive search of our corporate records we have found 2 inspectors reports relating to the following,

  • Highland Regulating Order
  • Solway Regulating Order 

I attach copies of these documents.

Additionally , according to an Official Report of the Rural Affairs Committee from 1 Feb 2000, which examines the Shetland Islands Regulated Fishery (Scotland) Order 1999 (SSI 1999/194), there was a public inquiry in August 1999 in Lerwick.

The Official Report states:

  • “Last August, there was a public inquiry in Lerwick, at which the Executive's reporter recommended that the order go through in time to introduce the planned licensing system for the fishing season.”
  • “The order was formally advertised in November 1998, but because of the legislative requirement for a public inquiry if one valid objection is made, the process has taken longer than Shetland interests had hoped for.”
  • “At the hearing last August, two objections were made: one was from a local person and was dealt with at the inquiry; the other was from a national fishing organisation that has stated clearly that it will object to all these regulating orders irrespective of whether they are in Shetland or in Alasdair's part of the world.”

I have carried out detailed searches in our corporate filing system to ascertain whether a copy of this report is still held by the Scottish Government, but I have not been able to find a copy.

Accordingly, I have concluded that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information that you have requested. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested, for the reasons set out above.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about this matter, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

In an effort to provide advice and assistance to you, I have considered whether the report on the Shetland Islands Regulating Order might be otherwise accessible, and I have searched UK Parliamentary Papers, Scottish Parliament Archive, the Scottish Government Publications page and also carried out a Google search in an effort to provide that assistance. However the report is not available on any of these platforms, so far as I can ascertain. It may be the case that a paper copy of the report has been retained in one of our offices, but they continue to be closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with most staff working from home, so we have not yet been able to confirm whether any such copy is held. You may wish to consider making a fresh request for this information once the coronavirus restrictions ease and offices reopen, if you are still interested in this information at that time.

In response to the second element of your question, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing this part of your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. Under the terms of that exception, the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because no applications were rejected following the inquiry report.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about this matter, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

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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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