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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Electrofishery trial submitted to Marine Scotland: EIR release

Published: 28 Feb 2018

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/00265
Date received: 30 January 2018
Date responded: 27 February 2018

Information requested

  1. Confirmation of the total number of application forms to join the electrofishery trial submitted to Marine Scotland

  2. Confirmation of the total number of applicants accepted to the trial

  3. Confirmation of the total number of applicants not accepted to the trial

  4. Of those applicants who have been accepted to the trial, confirmation of:

a) the total points allocated to each individual in respect of each individual's application form

b) a points breakdown in respect of sections 3.1, 3.4, 4.1, 5 Parts A & B, 6 Parts A & B, 6.26, 6.27, 6.28 and 7 of each individual's application form

c) any comments which have been recorded in respect of each individual's application to join the trial

d) the duration of time spent by the panel assessors considering each individual's application form

  1. Of those applicants who have not been accepted to the trial, confirmation of:

a) the total points allocated to each individual in respect of each individual's application form

b) a points breakdown in respect of sections 3.1, 3.4, 4.1, 5 Parts A & B, 6 Parts A & B, 6.26, 6.27, 6.28 and 7 of each individual's application form

c) any comments which have been recorded in respect of each individual's application to join the trial

d) the duration of time spent by the panel assessors considering each individual's application form

  1. Any recorded comments relating to your client Scot West Shellfish Ltd

  2. In respect of the decision regarding the number of applicants accepted to the trial, any recorded information regarding how this decision was reached.

Response

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.

The answers to your questions:

1, 2, 3, 4d and 5d are provided below:

  1. 51 applications were submitted applying to participate in the scientific trial of electrofishing for razor clams.

  2. To date 26 applicants have been invited to participate.

  3. 25 applicants have been informed that there application has been unsuccessful.

4(d) and 5(d). The time spent considering individual applications was not recorded at the sift.

However, the total hours spent considering all applications was 110.5 hours.

I also enclose a copy of some of the information you requested in questions 4(a)(b)(c), 5(a)(b)(c), 6 and 7 in electronic format as requested.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exceptions under regulations 10(4)(e) (internal communications); reg 10(5)(b) (course of justice) and reg 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why those exceptions apply to this information are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Regulation 10(4)(e)

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some the information you have requested because it is internal communication between Scottish Government Ministers and officials about the electrofishing for razor clams trial.

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. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on the electrofishing for razor clams trial will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that issue while it is still under discussion and development.

Regulation 10(5)(b)

An exception under regulation 10(5)(b) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to course of justice) applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to enforcement procedures and disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the course of justice or the ability of any public authority to conduct an inquiry of a criminal nature.

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. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the confidentiality around enforcement activity and procedures.

Regulation 11 (2)

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 Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. 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.

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-18-00265- associated documents.pdf

6 page PDF
170.6kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
28 Feb 2018
Electrofishery trial submitted to Marine Scotland: EIR release