Differences in figures between the Fisheries Management Scotland Annual Review and the Scottish Government catch data: EIR release

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

Information requested

For “an explanation why the catch of salmon for the 34 fishery districts reported in the Fisheries Management Scotland Annual Review (29,016 fish) totals 1,110 fish more than in the official Scottish Government catch data (27,906 fish)".


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.

Firstly, in response to your claim that “Marine Scotland Science are responsible for coordinating the catch data for salmon and trout”, this is not the case. Marine Scotland (MS) is responsible for collecting, collating and publishing (as Official Statistics) salmon and sea trout catches from fisheries known to us. The District Salmon Fishery Boards have powers to collect data from fisheries within their Districts, but MS is not involved with their collection or publication processes.

In response to your specific query, the Official Statistics (OS) on salmon and sea trout catches are collated from the returns MS receive after posting out ~2100 catch forms at the end of the salmon fishing season. Prior to collation and publication as OS, the data MS receive is checked for transcription or typographical errors and against the typical weights of fish for the location and time of year; otherwise, the publication is a summation of the data as received, together with some commentary that is subject to a quality assurance process. The most recent publication is available from: Marine publications: Marine publications: information on Scottish salmon and sea trout statistics - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

Under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 2003 it is an offence for a fishery not to report catch when Ministers ask them to do so (or for them to make a false return). We do not get a 100% form return rate and across Scotland this year’s return rate was 91%, whilst for the Doon it was 89%.

There are 109 Salmon Fishery Districts in Scotland and 41 District Salmon Fishery Boards – some Boards cover more than one District and 13 Districts do not have a Board; where there is no Board, Ministers have the responsibilities of a Board. Boards have the legal powers to collect data independently of ourselves, but not all Boards do and those that don’t collect their own data rely on the Official Statistics instead. It is inevitable that there will be discrepancies in the data published as Official Statistics and data held by Boards (and which is then used by Fisheries Management Scotland in their. Annual Report).

Differences may occur because some fisheries may occasionally report their catches to one organisation but not to both, because of differences in the data that a fishery reports to each organisation, or because the Boards and ourselves hold differing records of fisheries or fishery contacts. MS also receive some returns after the cut-off date for inclusion in the OS publication and those data are included when updating the Official Statistics the following year; it is therefore possible that differences are due to when a fishery reports their catch to each organisation. We have not currently received any late-returned data from the Doon District.

Some Boards will check the data that they hold against the Official Statistics and contact us where the OS appear to be missing a significant number of fish (particularly as missing fish may affect their river’s grading under the Conservation Regulations). Where a Board brings significant discrepancies to our attention MS will investigate, but MS do not have a role in checking the data produced by other organisations.

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.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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