Marine Scotland disposal of fishing gear and marine litter: EIR release

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


Information requested

A series of questions regarding the disposal of fishing gear at Scottish ports. You also asked a number of questions relating to a list of vessels which you provided, your list detailed landings into Scottish ports by third country vessels.

1. I note Marine Scotland officers have undertaken 'harbour patrols' and according to statement in the press recently- "fishing gear is being disposed of appropriately". The growing press coverage of foreign vessels deliberately discarding gillnets in our waters, along with recent article by George Monbiot in the Guardian dated- 19th Jan 22, has perhaps made Marine Scotland finally take the matter of disposed gillnets/longlines a little seriously? However local Fishermen continue to go on recovering freshly dumped French/Spanish gillnets from the seabed around Scotland on an increasingly frequent basis, this would tend to suggest that not all fishing gear is being disposed of "appropriately", if any at all. Evidence is being gathered by a multitude of Scottish fishing vessels to back this up. My question is- Marine Scotland's Officers have proclaimed- "that garbage and fishing gear is being disposed of appropriately", to make this claim Marine Scotland should be able to provide quantifiable evidence as documented during their 'harbour patrols' that backs up their specific statement to the press. I want to know the approx quantities of fishing equipment taken ashore by each vessel observed by Marine Scotland's Officers upon their 'harbour patrols'?

2. From the vessels observed during Marine Scotland's Officers 'harbour patrols', approximately much domestic rubbish (not disused fishing equipment) was discharged ashore "appropriately" by each vessel?

3. In total how many vessels did Marine Scotland's Officers observe during their 'harbour patrols' discharging rubbish/disused fishing equipment ashore?

4. I am aware of Marine Scotland's proposals to tackle marine litter- a marine litter poster recently published in conjunction with the MCA, and the 'Marine Litter Strategy For Scotland' which was published in 2014. These minimalistic efforts perhaps serve purpose to publicise Marine Scotland are 'doing something rather than nothing', similar to Marine Scotland's recent deployment of 'harbour patrols' monitoring rubbish. However the continued recovery of increasing amounts of discarded rubbish from French/Spanish gillnetters/longliners would tend to suggest Marine Scotland has a serious unwillingness to adopt sufficient policy change to tackle the problem at source, thus allowing these vessels to continue operating by these evidently harmful methods and to continue going on harming our marine environment. It could be said Marine Scotland are complicit in this growing problem- 'guilty by association'. My final question on marine litter is- Does Marine Scotland propose to introduce any new measures to tackle the problem at source and prevent harmful longlines/gillnets from being discarded in our waters, and if so what are these proposed measures?

With regards to Reporting activities and vessel monitoring can you please answer the following questions in relation to UK registered demersal/white fish- fishing vessels fishing within Scottish waters:-

  1. What obligation does UK fishing vessels have to report catch onboard, how frequently is this done, and what is the procedure for reporting catch onboard upon start of trip and end of trip?
  2. How does vessels in question above report the info related to your answer above?
  3. What is the maximum time frame vessels are allowed to report catch once the vessel has discharged catch to shore?

With regards to Reporting activities and vessel monitoring can you please answer the following questions in relation to Non-UK registered demersal/white fish- fishing vessels fishing within Scottish waters:-

  1. What obligation does Non-UK fishing vessels have to report catch onboard, how frequently is this required to be done, and what is the procedure for reporting catch onboard upon start of trip and end of trip?
  2. How does vessels in the question above report the info related to your answer above?
  3. What is the maximum time frame vessels are allowed to report catch from Scottish waters once the vessel has discharged it's catch to shore?
  4. With regards to the attached list of vessels which landed between August 1st and December 31st 2021, please confirm the date upon which Marine Scotland received information from each of the Non UK Registered vessels contained on the list, or from the vessel's agents detailing the contents of it's catch when it discharged into Scottish port upon the date listed?

Please see attached list detailing vessels whom have landed into Scottish ports during the period 1st August 2021 to 31st December 21.

  1. How many vessels upon the attached list had catches physically inspected by Marine Scotland Officers upon landing?
  2. How many vessels from the list had discrepancies discovered by Marine Scotland Officer's, discrepancies relating to actual quantities of fish landed and actual quantities declared upon vessel's landing logsheets?
  3. From question 2 above how many of the discrepancies resulted in a fisheries infringement being recorded?
  4. Specifically- in total how many landings were recorded by GBR registered demersal whitefish vessels (not how many vessels had landed) in Scottish ports from August 1st 2021 to December 31st 2021?
  5. How many GBR vessel's catches in question 4 above were inspected upon landing by Marine Scotland's Officer's during fore mentioned time period?
  6. How many GBR vessels from question 5 above had discrepancies discovered by Marine Scotland Officer's, discrepancies relating to actual quantities of fish landed and actual quantities declared upon vessel's landing logsheets?
  7. From question 6 above how many of the discrepancies resulted in a fisheries infringement being recorded?

Response

1. I note Marine Scotland officers have undertaken 'harbour patrols' and according to statement in the press recently- "fishing gear is being disposed of appropriately". The growing press coverage of foreign vessels deliberately discarding gillnets in our waters, along with recent article by George Monbiot in the Guardian dated- 19th Jan 22, has perhaps made Marine Scotland finally take the matter of disposed gillnets/longlines a little seriously? However local Fishermen continue to go on recovering freshly dumped French/Spanish gillnets from the seabed around Scotland on an increasingly frequent basis, this would tend to suggest that not all fishing gear is being disposed of "appropriately", if any at all. Evidence is being gathered by a multitude of Scottish fishing vessels to back this up. My question is- Marine Scotland's Officers have proclaimed- "that garbage and fishing gear is being disposed of appropriately", to make this claim Marine Scotland should be able to provide quantifiable evidence as documented during their 'harbour patrols' that backs up their specific statement to the press. I want to know the approx quantities of fishing equipment taken ashore by each vessel observed by Marine Scotland's Officers upon their 'harbour patrols'?

1. 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. You asked Marine Scotland to provide approx. quantities of fishing gear taken ashore for disposal by each vessel observed by Marine Scotland’s Officers during harbour patrols. We do not record this information and are therefore unable to provide this.

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 quantities of fishing gear observed as being disposed by our officers, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

2. From the vessels observed during Marine Scotland's Officers 'harbour patrols', approximately much domestic rubbish (not disused fishing equipment) was discharged ashore "appropriately" by each vessel?


2. 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. You asked Marine Scotland to provide approx. quantities of domestic rubbish which was disposed appropriately, as observed by Marine Scotland’s Officers during harbour patrols. We do not record this information and are therefore unable to provide this.

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 quantities of disposed domestic rubbish observed as being disposed by our officers, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

3. In total how many vessels did Marine Scotland's Officers observe during their 'harbour patrols' discharging rubbish/disused fishing equipment ashore?

3. 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. You asked Marine Scotland to provide the number of vessels discharging rubbish/fishing equipment ashore as observed by Marine Scotland’s Officers during harbour patrols. We do not record this information and are therefore unable to provide this.

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 number of vessels discharging rubbish/fishing equipment ashore as observed by Marine Scotland’s Officers during harbour patrols, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Separate to this EIR, Marine Scotland has no obligation to monitor the quantities of fishing gear or domestic waste disposed by fishing crews at Scottish ports. Officers do not routinely record this information. Officers have observed gear in bins including gillnets, but this would be anecdotal and not quantifiable.

4. I am aware of Marine Scotland's proposals to tackle marine litter- a marine litter poster recently published in conjunction with the MCA, and the 'Marine Litter Strategy For Scotland' which was published in 2014. These minimalistic efforts perhaps serve purpose to publicise Marine Scotland are 'doing something rather than nothing', similar to Marine Scotland's recent deployment of 'harbour patrols' monitoring rubbish. However the continued recovery of increasing amounts of discarded rubbish from French/Spanish gillnetters/longliners would tend to suggest Marine Scotland has a serious unwillingness to adopt sufficient policy change to tackle the problem at source, thus allowing these vessels to continue operating by these evidently harmful methods and to continue going on harming our marine environment. It could be said Marine Scotland are complicit in this growing problem- 'guilty by association'. My final question on marine litter is- Does Marine Scotland propose to introduce any new measures to tackle the problem at source and prevent harmful longlines/gillnets from being discarded in our waters, and if so what are these proposed measures?

4. The Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland has been reviewed and a consultation on the updated strategy is currently open until 22 March 2022 https://consult.gov.scot/marine-scotland/updated-marine-litter-strategy-for-scotland/. The refreshed strategy builds upon the original themes of behaviour change, reducing sources of litter, improving monitoring, and working internationally. Actions will focus on the prevention of litter reaching the marine environment, and have been widened to better support the removal of marine litter. The strategy contains several actions on fishing and aquaculture gear.

Separate to this EIR, we would encourage the reporting of any incidents of marine litter or suspicious activity to Marine Scotland using the online reporting form Forms (scotland.gov.uk)

With regards to Reporting activities and vessel monitoring can you please answer the following questions in relation to UK registered demersal/white fish- fishing vessels fishing within Scottish waters:-

  1. What obligation does UK fishing vessels have to report catch onboard, how frequently is this done, and what is the procedure for reporting catch onboard upon start of trip and end of trip?
  2. How does vessels in question above report the info related to your answer above?
  3. What is the maximum time frame vessels are allowed to report catch once the vessel has discharged catch to shore?

Article 15, Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 (as retained) requires all vessels over 12 metres from 1 January 2012 to record a fishing logbook electronically. Article 47, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 (as retained) details the requirements of electronic logbooks including how, what and when reports are made. Specifically Article 47 requires the transmission of catch data; at least once a day no later than 24:00, immediately after the last fishing operation, before entering a port, and on request by inspectors or a competent authority. Marine Scotland can view a vessels electronic logbook at any time remotely and undertakes both automatic and officer checks to ensure compliance.

With regards to Reporting activities and vessel monitoring can you please answer the following questions in relation to Non- UK registered demersal/white fish- fishing vessels fishing within Scottish waters:-

  1. What obligation does Non-UK fishing vessels have to report catch onboard, how frequently is this required to be done, and what is the procedure for reporting catch onboard upon start of trip and end of trip?
  2. How does vessels in the question above report the info related to your answer above?
  3. What is the maximum time frame vessels are allowed to report catch from Scottish waters once the vessel has discharged it's catch to shore?
  4. With regards to the attached list of vessels which landed between August 1st and December 31st 2021, please confirm the date upon which Marine Scotland received information from each of the Non UK Registered vessels contained on the list, or from the vessel's agents detailing the contents of it's catch when it discharged into Scottish port upon the date listed?

Article 15, Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 (as retained) requires all vessels over 12 metres, including EU vessels, from 1 January 2012 to record a fishing logbook electronically. Article 47, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 (as retained) details the requirements of electronic logbooks including how, what and when reports are to be made. Specifically Article 47 requires the transmission of catch data at least once a day, no later than 24:00, immediately after the last fishing operation, before entering a port, and on request by inspectors or a competent authority.

Marine Scotland can view a vessels electronic logbook at any time remotely and undertakes both automatic and officer checks to ensure compliance. These checks assist us to identify any high risk vessels or landings which may require officers to attend in person.

Please see attached list detailing vessels whom have landed into Scottish ports during the period 1st August 2021 to 31st December 21.

  1. How many vessels upon the attached list had catches physically inspected by Marine Scotland Officers upon landing? A total of eleven vessels were inspected. Please refer to our reply to your EIR Request dated 27/01/2022.
  2. How many vessels from the list had discrepancies discovered by Marine Scotland Officer's, discrepancies relating to actual quantities of fish landed and actual quantities declared upon vessel's landing logsheets? Please refer to our reply to your EIR Request dated 27/01/2022.
  3. From question 2 above how many of the discrepancies resulted in a fisheries infringement being recorded? As answered in our response dated 27/01/2022, there were no recorded infringements.
  4. Specifically- in total how many landings were recorded by GBR registered demersal whitefish vessels (not how many vessels had landed) in Scottish ports from August 1st 2021 to December 31st 2021? 491 GBR registered demersal whitefish vessel landings took place during this time period.
  5. How many GBR vessel's catches in question 4 above were inspected upon landing by Marine Scotland's Officer's during fore mentioned time period? 123 catches inspected in total.
  6. How many GBR vessels from question 5 above had discrepancies discovered by Marine Scotland Officer's, discrepancies relating to actual quantities of fish landed and actual quantities declared upon vessel's landing logsheets? 40 recorded discrepancies.
  7. From question 6 above how many of the discrepancies resulted in a fisheries infringement being recorded? 40 recorded infringements.

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.

FOI - 202200284386 - Attachment - Table of vessels provided by requester

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

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