002 - FOI

Copies of Independent test results and fix proposals for all suppliers

Abstract:

Freedom of information request for a copy of the independent testing report for the 4 I-VMS devices, and the I-VMS suppliers proposal that was submitted in response to the testing results.

 

Tier 1

Filing Date: 6th June 2023

Reply Date: 4th July 2023

MMO Ref: ATI3070

Tier 1 Response:

REFUSED

 

Dear Sir,

I am making a formal request for a copy of the independent testing report for the 4 I-VMS devices, and the I-VMS suppliers proposal that was submitted in response to the testing results.

The independent testing report is likely titled “I-VMS – Technical Device Testing”, and issued on or around 24/02/2023

For your assistance, a copy of the report for Maritime Systems is attached, so you can match it to the required documents.

 

For your assistance, the suppliers proposed response would likely have been received by the MMO between 13/04/23 and 27/04/23.

All of these documents will be aware to the I-VMS team within the MMO.

 

I appreciate that there may be concerns releasing information about another companies, so I am happy for the supplier names to be redacted, although I do not believe this is required under the Freedom of information act.

 

As per the UK Government information, I expect to receive these within 20 working days.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this request.

04 July 2023
Dear Mr Glover,
Thank you for your request for information about the results of the independent testing of
Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (I-VMS) devices, which we received on Tuesday 6 June
2023. Within your request, you asked for the following information:
‘I am making a formal request for a copy of the independent testing report for the 4
I-VMS devices, and the I-VMS suppliers proposal that was submitted in response to
the testing results.
The independent testing report is likely titled “I-VMS – Technical Device Testing”,
and issued on or around 24/02/2023
For your assistance, a copy of the report for Maritime Systems is attached, so you
can match it to the required documents..’
We are dealing with your request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
(EIR) rather than the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). In reaching this decision
we have considered the definition of environmental information as defined within the EIR.
Is the requested information environmental?
Regulation 2(1) of the EIR defines environmental information as being information on:
(a) the state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water,
soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine
areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified
organisms, and the interaction among these elements;
(b) factors, such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, including radioactive
waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, affecting or
likely to affect the elements of the environment referred to in (a);
(c) measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation, plans,
programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect
the elements and factors referred to in (a)…as well as measures or activities
designed to protect those elements;
(d) reports on the implementation of environmental legislation;
(e) cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the
framework of the measures and activities referred to in (c); and
(f) the state of human health and safety, including the contamination of the food chain,
where relevant, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures inasmuch
as they are or may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment
referred to in (a) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to in (b)
and (c);
The information in question is on the testing of I-VMS devices. I-VMS devices monitor
inshore fishing activity to help improve the management and sustainability of our marine
environment, ensure proper fishing practices and prevent illegal fishing to help protect and
enhance the livelihoods of fishers.
Therefore the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) considers that this information is
information both directly on a measure having impact on the marine environment (or, more
precisely in this case, preventing an impact on the marine environment).
The information you requested is being withheld as it falls under the exceptions in
Regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR.
In applying the exception MMO has had to balance the public interest in withholding the
information against the public interest in disclosure. Our detailed application of the
exceptions outlined above is set out below.
Regulation 12(5)(e)
Regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR provides that a public authority may refuse to disclose
information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect the confidentiality of
commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to
protect a legitimate economic interest.
The MMO is relying on regulation 12(5)(e) to withhold the following information which was
produced by third parties:
• The independent testing reports comissioned by MMO and GMV NSL for the four
supplier devices type approved under the I-VMS project.
In it’s assessment of whether regulation 12(5)(e) is engaged, MMO is required tol consider
the following questions:
• Is the information commercial or industrial in nature?
• Is the information subject to confidentiality provided by law?
• Is the confidentiality required to protect a legitimate economic interest?
• Would the confidentiality be adversely affected by disclosure?
For clarity, if the first three questions can be answered in the positive, the final question
will automatically be in the positive because if the information was disclosed under the
EIR, it would cease to be confidential.
Is the information commercial or industrial in nature?
The information indeitified as held by MMO includes specific details relating to the function,
build and operability of suppliers I-VMS devices and as such we consider that this is both
commercial and industrial in nature. In addition, the information includes details regarding
the testing processes and methodology used by GMV NSL which MMO considers to also
fall within this category of information.
Is the confidentiality required to protect a legitimate economic interest?
MMO can confirm the information relates to specific detail relating to the design, build and
operability of supplier I-VMS devices. We argue that if the information were made public it
would be likely that suppliers would be placed at an unfairadvantage to potential
competitors who develop similar devices and who are not subject to the MMO’s I-VMS
project. This is because detailed information relating to the devices would be publicaly
available and used by potential competitors within this commercial marketplace.
MMO considers that disclosure of the this information would result in other third parties
gaining access to commercially valuable information which would harm the organisations
who had devices approved by MMO as part of the I-VMS project.
MMO also considers that disclosure of the information would adversely affect suppliers
ability to operate the market as it would allow other institutions and competitors to gain an
advantage by having sight of commercially sensitive information regarding their I-VMS
devices.
Regarding the fourth condition set out above, MMO argues that disclosure this information
into the public domain would inevitably harm the confidential nature of
that information, and would also harm the legitimate economic interests of the I-VMS
device suppliers and GMV NSL.
As the four tests have been satisfied the Commissioner finds that regulation 12(5)(e) is
therefore engaged.
Consideration of the public interest test in application of Regulation 12(5)(e)
As with Regulation 12(4)(e) under the EIR, when regulation 12(5)(e) is engaged MMO
must carry out the public interest test in order to decide whether the information should be
withheld. Under regulation 12(1)(b), the public authority can only withhold the information
if, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exception
outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. Furthermore, under regulation
12(2), it must apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.
MMO accepts the general public interest in public authorities being transparent,
accountable and open to scrutiny. MMO also acknowledges that disclosure could increase
public awareness and add to public scrutiny of the I-VMS project.
MMO consider that in this case there is a significant public interest in respecting
confidentiality where it is protecting a legitimate economic interest and where disclosure of
the requested information would have adverse impacts on I-VMS device suppliers and
GMV NSL; negatively impact the relationship between MMO and the I-VMS device
suppliers; and undermine future relationships required to ensure successful delivery of the
I-VMS project.
MMO recognises and gives weight to the importance of accountability for spending public
money in implementing the I-VMS project.
However, MMO gives significant weight to preserving the principle of confidentiality and
the real risk of undermining its ongoing relationship with the remaining I-VMS device
suppliers and GMV NSL. We argue that it serves the public interest for there to be a fruitful
relationship in addressing the successful roll-out of I-VMS devices within the English under
12metre fishing fleet which will ultimately support in the delivery of sutainble fisheries
management. MMO considers that harm caused to the legitimate economic interests of the
I-VMS device suppliers and GMV NSL would ultimately not serve the public interest.
The MMO’s decision is that the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs that
in disclosure, and therefore it is correct to rely on regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR to refuse to
provide the withheld information.
If you are unhappy with the way the MMO has handled your request for information, you
can request an internal review by writing to Access to Information Internal Reviews at
MMO, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle Business Park, Newcastle upon
Tyne, NE4 7YH or e-mail accesstoinformation@marinemanagement.org.uk.
If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a right to appeal at
the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The ICO can be contacted at Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF. Tel 0303 123 1113 or
http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints. There is no charge for the internal review or making and
appeal to the ICO.
Yours sincerely
Laurie Rodwell
Service Exception Lead
Marine Management Ogranisation

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