Infringements recorded as a result of policing Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): EIR release

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

Information requested

How many infringements have been recorded as a result of policing Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas? And what penalties were applied?

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.


We do not have retained records of infringements submitted for enforcement action to Enforcement Standards and Operational Assurance (ESOA) prior to February 2017. We are applying the exception at 10(4)a of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This is specifically that we do not hold the requested information prior to February 2017 and therefore cannot provide it. Since February 2017 however there have been 19 suspected infringements involving Marine Protected Areas submitted to ESOA where there was sufficient corroboration of the Key Facts to take enforcement action.

The disposal for these cases is as follows:

  Disposal Method
Total Number of Infringements Fixed Penalty Notice Warning Letter Referral to COPFS Currently under Investigation
19 5 3 10 1

The total value of the five Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued and paid was £14,000, comprising of three FPNs at £4,000 each and one at £2,000. One further FPN has been issued for £4,000 which has yet to be paid.

Of the ten cases referred to Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) three individuals have been convicted and fined a total of £7411.43, comprising individual fines of £2,200, £3211.43 and £2,000 respectively. Two other individuals had "not guilty" please accepted in relation to the MPA infringements; however they were convicted on other charge(s) brought simultaneously. It is fairly common for the Procurator Fiscal to agree to a "not guilty" plea for a charge where the defendant has agreed to plead guilty for other offence(s). The remaining five cases are still subject to court proceedings and have not as of yet had summary action completed. Two of those five remaining cases were offered FPNs of £4,000 each as an alternative to prosecution, however, they chose not to avail themselves of the opportunity to pay an FPN and were referred to COPFS as a result.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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