Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence regarding compliance of ADD's: EIR release

Published: 2 Dec 2021

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

Published:
2 Dec 2021
Correspondence regarding compliance of ADD's: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100248102
Date received: 15 Oct 2021
Date responded: 11 Nov 2021
Information requested

I would be grateful for any further news of the Compliance Plan being prepared by Marine Scotland Compliance regarding the use of ADDs and other predator control methods within the finfish industry. Please provide a copy of that Plan.

Please also provide full details, including the returns made by operators, of the survey of all Scottish finfish sites.

Finally, please also provide full details of any “random assurance visits” which may have occurred this year and what evidence MSC has been able to collect and analyse during such visits.

Response

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the EIRs) we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of 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 would be grateful for any further news of the Compliance Plan being prepared by Marine Scotland Compliance regarding the use of ADDs and other predator control methods within the finfish industry. Please provide a copy of that Plan.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) (for internal communications) of the EIRs applies to that information.

This exception applies because the information relates to an Enforcement Plan written by Marine Scotland Compliance for internal use only. The plan refers to law enforcement procedures.

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 the Enforcement plan we consider releasing Enforcement plans and internal enforcement instructions will restrict our ability to enforce marine legislation , therefore we cannot provide the information requested

Please also provide full details, including the returns made by operators, of the survey of all Scottish finfish sites.

Attached are two documents which detail the returns made by finfish operators in regards to the survey referred to.

Finally, please also provide full details of any “random assurance visits” which may have occurred this year and what evidence MSC has been able to collect and analyse during such visits."

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 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 for the following reasons. So far as you have asked for details of random assurance visits by Marine Scotland Compliance this year, the Scottish Government does not have the requested information
because no random assurance visits, as referred to in your second paragraph, have been undertaken for the purpose of enforcing EPS licensing this year.

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 whether Marine Scotland has undertaken random assurance visits, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Out with the EIR, Marine Scotland Compliance undertook visits to a number of fish farms in relation to an active investigation relating to this matter. We would not release any details of these visits, claiming an exception under regulation 10(5)(b) (course of justice etc.)

About FOI

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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
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