Most recent report and/or briefing on Broad Bay no-take zone: EIR release

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

Information requested

I would like to ask for the most recent report and/or briefing on Broad Bay no-take zone. In particular I am looking to understand what records the Scottish Government currently has about the marine habitat in that location and how biodiversity has been effected since the no-take zone was introduced.

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. I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. Please find enclosed two PDF documents.

Please note that the organisations mentioned in these PDF documents have changed their names since the documents were produced. Within the attached documents, the Marine Directorate of the Scottish Government may be referred to as ‘MSS’ or ‘Marine Scotland Science’, and NatureScot may be referred to as ‘SNH’ or ‘Scottish Natural Heritage’.

The two documents enclosed are:

  • A fisheries ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document on Broad Bay - Fisheries FAQs - Broad Bay – Redacted. This document was prepared by NatureScot and was used to inform the most recent briefing lines to ministers, which are included below.
  • An update on the Marine Directorate’s scallop dredge survey results of 2007 and 2016 - Broad Bay_Summary of MSS scallop dredge survey results - Redacted. This document was prepared in August 2016 by MSS for the Outer Hebrides Regional Inshore Fisheries Group Broad Bay sub-group, following a request made in the 26 May 2016 meeting for MSS and SNH to consider the scope and options for scientific studies in the Broad Bay area. These survey results form the basis of the FAQs document above and the briefing lines included below.

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

2. Some of the information you have requested is available online:

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.

3. You also requested the latest briefing from the Marine Directorate on the Broad Bay no-take zone. The most recent lines on Broad Bay were included in a background briefing, dated 12 June 2023, for an oral parliamentary question addressed to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands. These lines draw on the FAQs and survey results listed above and were supplied as background information. Please find the relevant extract provided below:

  • There is no long term data to support claims that the closure of Broad Bay has failed or the experience somehow proves that closures do not work.
  • Broad Bay has been identified as an important spawning and nursery ground for flatfish species, in particular the European plaice. The prohibition of mobile gear was implemented to protect these grounds and increase plaice abundance.
  • The closure of Broad Bay was not intended to manage scallop fishing or protect scallop habitats, so any changes in scallop abundance are incidental to the closure.
  • Six tows within Broad Bay were carried out in 2007 and 2016 as part of a much broader scale assessment of scallop abundance and not for the purpose of understanding population dynamics of scallops or other species in Broad Bay. We cannot use these results to confidently make any statements about the health of the ecosystem or effectiveness of the management measure.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

Fisheries FAQs
Annex 1 - 202300363454


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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