Information

Information concerning Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015: EIR release

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


Information requested

"With reference to OUTCOME 2 of the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015:-
1. What specific vessel monitoring, if any, has been put in place by Marine Scotland between 2015 and 2022 to 'provide good quality information on the footprint of inshore fishing'?

n.b. we are looking for work that has been specifically commissioned in satisfaction of Outcome 2. If no work was commissioned, then please confirm this.

With reference to OUTCOME 4 of the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015:-
2. What assessment methodologies have been put in place for 'fishing at MSY'?

3. What assessment methodologies have been put in place 'for achieving Good Environmental Status'?

4. What assessment methodologies have been put in place for 'maintaining compliance with other marine conservation initiatives such as Natura Directive and the development of Marine Protected Areas'?

n.b. In answering these, we are looking for work that was specifically generated or commissioned by Marine Scotland in satisfaction of Outcome 4 between 2015 and 2022. If no work was commissioned, then please confirm this.

With reference to OUTCOME 5 of the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015:-
5. What baseline data has been developed to 'understand the footprint of fishing in the Scotland'?

6. With reference any to data developed under 5. above please provide an estimate of the geographical spatial footprint of the nephrops trawl fishery in Scottish inshore waters.

7. What data has been developed to understand the 'interactions between sustainable fishing and other activities in the marine environment'?

8. Any other data generated by Marine Scotland in satisfaction of OUTCOME 5.

n.b. In answering these we are looking for word that was specifically generated or commissioned by Marine Scotland between 2015 and 2022 in satisfaction of Outcome 5. If no work was commissioned under Outcome 5, then please confirm this.

With reference to Scotland's Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030
9. Any monitoring or evaluation frameworks developed by Marine Scotland or its agents to measure and monitor progress under the Strategy.

10. If the aforementioned evaluation framework is not complete, then please confirm when it is scheduled for completion."

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested and some of the information is in the course of completion. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exceptions at Regulation 10(4)(a) (information not held) and Regulation 10(4)(d) (material which is still in the course of completion, etc.) of the EIRs. The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

We note that several of your questions pertain to the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015 and work commissioned or generated between 2015 and 2022. The Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015, which was relatively narrow in focus, has been superseded by our Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030 published in December 2020. The Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030 sets out the Scottish Government’s approach to managing Scotland's sea fisheries, it applies to all of Scotland’s waters and fishing sectors and reflects the fundamental change in context that has arisen since 2015 as a consequence of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Marine Scotland Science maintains long-term monitoring programmes alongside strategic projects to provide scientific data and advice. Many of these work areas precede the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015 and several are on-going. Much of the material you appear to be interested in is in the public domain as it has been assessed under the aforementioned programmes and projects. In the interests of transparency and assistance, we provide below links to relevant information.

  • Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 provides a peer reviewed assessment of the state of Scotland’s seas, summarising evidence to inform development of future policies.
  • Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics is published annually and provides detailed information on the Scottish fishing industry. The latest publication is available here. Whilst this is an annual publication it provides valuable baseline and monitoring data for a wide number of fishery related policies.
  • Details of the 2014 – 2015 project ‘Evidence Gathering In Support of Sustainable Scottish Inshore Fisheries’ are published online.
  • The Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System (SIFIDS) project (2017-2020) supported research into the development of an integrated system for the collection, collation, analysis and interrogation of data from the Scottish inshore fishing fleet.
  • The Modernisation of the Inshore Fleet Programme is deploying appropriate and proportionate technology to improve monitoring of fishing activities in inshore waters. The scallop dredge fleet is the first to be equipped with Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) systems. Since the Scottish Government’s preferred supplier to deliver the REM programme was announced (February 2020), 50 REM installations have been carried out on active Scottish registered scallop dredge vessels (as at08/02/22).Installations were initially delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Marine Scotland’s Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot is testing fisheries management measures, including creel limitation within an area to the east of the Outer Hebrides. Part of this Pilot involves trialling a low cost inshore vessel tracking solution developed under the SIFIDS programme.
  • All vessels currently authorised to fish and land razor clams in Scotland (under scientific derogation) have a Remote Electronic Device on-board (2020/2021 Report).
  • The fisheries indicator assessments in MOAT assess the number of stocks at Maximum Sustainable Yield.
  • An assessment of Good Environmental Status (GES),can also be accessed at MOAT.
  • A three-year research project was initiated in 2017 with the aim of developing indicator based approaches to assess and manage data limited fish and shellfish stocks (including inshore stocks),in line with fishing at levels which produce maximum sustainable yields (Fmsy) and achieving GES. Results of this research have been published in a number of peer-reviewed publications, including https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsz158 and https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsab248.
  • Marine Scotland estimated the footprint of fishing in support of the consultation on Improving protection given to Priority Marine Features outside the Marine Protected Area network. The spatial data is publicly available online.
  • Marine Scotland participates in the UK-response to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Data Call. This leads to advice for OSPAR, including the publication of quality-assured spatial layers using best available data which show intensity of fishing activity throughout European seas, including Scottish waters. This includes an estimate of the geographical spatial footprint of the Nephrops trawl fishery in Scottish waters and is publicly available here.
  • Exploration of optimisation modelling in the Scottish Nephrops fleet, an industry mapping analysis, was commissioned and published to establish a more detailed spatial baseline of the Scottish Nephrops fleet. Analysis of specific areas is available within the report.
  • Nephrops habitat data and functional units are publicly available online.
  • Monitoring the socio-economic impacts of Marine Protected Areas was commissioned to monitor the socio-economic impacts following management measures introduced in a number of inshore Marine Protected Areas(MPAs) in Spring 2016.
  • For marine planning purposes, we host Average intensity (hours) of fishing using ICES VMS data sets. The data is freely available online.
  • A VMS footprint of the Nephrops trawl fishery was developed in 2010 and presented at ICES Study Group on Nephrops Surveys (2010). The Group endorsed this approach and it can be found in Annex 4 of the report.
  • We host many layers about marine activities on Marine Scotland Maps.

ANNEX
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION


The Scottish Government does not have the information
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 some of the information you have requested. The Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015 was superseded by the Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030.

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 the outcomes of the Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold. However, there is extensive information in the public domain relating to a broader range of fisheries management issues, including those contained in the Inshore Fisheries Strategy 2015.

An exception applies
An exception under Regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (material in the course of completion) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies to information which is still in the course of completion. The monitoring and evaluation framework for Scotland’s Fisheries Management Strategy is still in the preliminary stages of development and requires further consideration before it can inform policy decisions. It is expected to be published in Autumn 2022, subject to Ministerial approval.

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. We recognise that there is some public interest in the release of the monitoring and evaluation framework for Scotland’s Fisheries Management Strategy. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still being worked on, or is under active consideration, is not disclosed when it might misinform the public or give a misleading impression of the Government’s view or position on the matter to which the information relates.

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