Levels of cod bycatch in the west of Scotland: EIR release

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

Information requested

  • "Any reports/written analysis carried out by Marine Scotland or commissioned by Marine Scotland into the levels of cod bycatch in the west of Scotland (VIa) trawl fisheries in each of the last 5 years (2018-2022)
  • Any discard reduction plans for West of Scotland cod published in the last 5 years (2018-2022).
  • Any advice/guidance written by Marine Scotland regarding the appropriate bycatch allowance for West of Scotland cod for the purposes of the annual December TAC negotiations for each of the last 5 years (2018-2022).
  • Any control measures reports for west of Scotland published in the last 5 years (2018-2022)”


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.

1. 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.

You will find the links to information which has already been published online on page 1 of the document being released. This relates to your second point on discard reduction plans for West of Scotland cod.

2. I attach a copy of some of the information you requested. In response to the request, 2 documents are being released on page 3 and 6 of the attachment. Those documents will be related to one of the four individual request made as part of this EIR.

On the first request, regarding report/written analysis on levels of cod bycatch in the west of Scotland, the document 001 is being released.

On the second request, regarding discard reduction plans for West of Scotland cod, information we have on this is released under items 002 and 003.

On the third request, regarding “advice/guidance written by Marine Scotland”, Marine Scotland Science does not advise or provide guidance on the appropriate levels of bycatch, rather it contributes data and expertise to the generation of international advice on catch limits and operates (with Scottish Fishermen’s Federation) an observer and co-sampling scheme to provide estimates of discard rates to inform this advisory process.

On the fourth request, regarding reports on control measures for West of Scotland our searches have confirmed that we do not hold any such reports.

With regards to the information that has been released, please be aware that documents released as part of EIR requests are reflective of the situation at the time and may have been subject to further change and differing opinion as the situation evolved.

Additional information to note
The West of Scotland cod fishery has been managed as a restricted non-directed fishery since 2012. For 2022, the UK’s TAC was 904 tonnes. UK fishing licences restrict all vessels from landing no more than 2% of the total catch (all species from all areas) per trip. We continue to monitor this bycatch TAC carefully. There is a benchmark planned for North Sea cod in February 2023 which we hope will lead to a better TAC management proposed by ICES for the northern West of Scotland cod.

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 202200324153 - Information Released - Annex A


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top