Vessel monitoring system (VMS) data for UK registered commercial fishing vessels operating in Scottish territorial waters (inside 12MN) for vessels 12m and over in length, indicating:
- gear type;
- hours fished;
- first sales value;
- year (for a five year period for the most recent data available e.g., 2016-2020 or 2017-2021)
I would like to request this data as a shapefile that can be mapped in GIS (ArcMap); a gridded dataset including either vessels of 12- 15m, or 12m+ (whichever can be released), at a similar scale (1/200th of an ICES rectangle), with similar gear categories, for the year 2016-2020.
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.
Some of the data you have requested has been provided as a zipped shapefile and CSV. This consists of data covering the time period 2016 to 2020.
I will be separately emailing you an invitation to a shared Workspace in an online storage facility called “Objective Connect.” This online storage facility is now the Scottish Government preferred way to share large and/or numerous files. To access the documents via Objective Connect you will need to click on the link provided in my accompanying email. In order to access the shared Workspace files you will need to enter your email address and a password of your choice. You will then be able to enter the Workspace and click on the zipped folder saved within it to download all the documents released to you under this EIR.
The data includes estimates per c-square of gear category, year, total hours, sales value, and landed weight.
We have included a metadata XML which explains the anonymization and aggregation applied to the data to make it available for release:
Logbook and sales data is averaged across VMS position reports at estimated fishing speeds. This data provided includes all UK fishing vessels reporting VMS data (generally those with an overall length of 12m or greater) aggregated into 0.05 decimal degree C-Squares. The C-Squares are filtered to only include those that intersect Scottish territorial waters (up to 12NM from baselines).
Gear categories are based on Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) working group classifications except that “trawls”, “surrounding nets”, and “seines” have been amalgamated or split into "bottom trawls and seines” or "pelagic trawls and seines".
Scottish Government statistical disclosure control guidance requires values to be withheld where there are less than five vessels. These withheld values are recorded as nulls in the CSV and as zero (0) in the shapefile due to limitations of the shapefile format. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reason why this exception applies is explained below.
Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), 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 because the 2021 data has yet to be processed.
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 you have requested relating to the 2021 period, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.
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
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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