Information

Impact of creeling removal within Clyde cod spawning closure: EIR release

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


Information requested

Can you please supply copies of the assessments you have made as to the relative likelihood of creeling, dredging and trawling on impacting the sites objectives?

Can you please supply copies of correspondence and copies of all minutes of meetings internal and external that would assist us in understanding the rational behind these decisions including records of meetings with fisheries representatives and copies of advice issued to ministers?

Over and above the preceding two requests can you please furnish ourselves with any further information we may have inadvertently omitted to request, that might inform ourselves as to how this announcement is either evidenced or ecosystems based or that might offer insight as to on what alternative basis this decision was made?

We note that the BRIA states that “there was a consultation within government. This consultation included collogues from MS science, Planning, Policy, Sea fisheries and compliance”. Can you please ensure that when you get around to progressing our previous request for information that you include all details, notes, communications etc relating to those consultations?

We note that the BRIA states "a significant majority of responses to the consultation called for some or all exemptions to be removed". As part of the detail furnishing our previous request can you ensure that there is a breakdown of the responses that indicates what percentages accrue to each option?

Lastly when you eventually get round to supplying the information that we have previously requested can you ensure any details that we may have omitted to specifically request that might shed light on either the decision to include creel and dive fishers and or that might explain why in the BRIA there was a ridiculous conclusion that "The SSI will not affect quota levels and should not prevent fishermen catching their full quota over the course of the year, although there may be some short term effect on cash flow during the closure". This conclusion implies that quota is currently a substantive factor in creel fishers ability to make a living and also implies that due to the measure not impacting quota that there were, beyond short term cash flow, no significant economic impacts anticipated for creel vessels?

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.

Response to your request

Below are links to information that is available online.

To note the BRIA has been available online since the SSI was laid: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2022/35/pdfs/ssifia_20220035_en.pdf.

Responses to both parts of the consultation have now been published at the following link (where permission has been received to do so) https://consult.gov.scot/marine-scotland/cod-spawningclosure/consultation/published_select_respondent.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data for Clyde box: EIR release - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 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.

We have also published a summary of research regarding the impacts of disturbance on cod. spawning areas: https://www.gov.scot/publications/cod-spawning-areas-research/ along with a blog article which details the rationale for the new SSI: https://blogs.gov.scot/marine-scotland/2022/02/01/targeted-andfocused-approach-to-strengthen-clyde-cod-recovery/

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 which was still an unfinished document at the time the request was made.

The following drafts documents were not released as they have now been finalised which we have disclosed in this response below.
Consultation letter: Clyde Cod Consultation Letter - Clyde cod spawning closure 2022-2023: consultation - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The handout to industry about the Clyde Cod spawning closures 2022 and 2023.
Fishing closures: Firth of Clyde - 2022 and 2023 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) 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. You will note that this information has been redacted throughout the disclosed documents.

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 exceptions under regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of the EIRs applies to that information.

1) In relation to general policy and decision-making.
2) In relation to SPQ background notes, Ministerial/media briefings, lines to take, etc.
3) In relation to internal legal advice – note regulation 10(5)(b) can also be used for legal.

1) We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on Clyde Cod SSI will be disclosed in the near.

2) 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 information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in the setting of the The Sea Fish (Prohibited Methods of Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly answer Parliamentary questions, provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

3) 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 information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

About FOI

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.

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
EH1 3DG

Back to top