3 March 2017

MSP Call for Assurances North East Fishing Industry Will Not Be "Expendable" As It Was In 1970s

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called for assurances the North East’s fishing industry will not be made “expendable” by the UK Government as it was in the 1970s.

Mr Stevenson made the call to the Minister for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing after a recently leaked memo implied the fishing industry was a “medium priority” in negotiations to exit the European Union.
In response Mr Ewing said UK Ministers have “failed to guarantee” that Scotland’s fishing industry would not be expendable. He said:

“The memo, if it is genuine, serves only to increase my concern that, once again, the UK indicated why it is vital that Scotland be fully involved in all negotiations relating to Scotland’s future in Europe.

“Scottish waters are among the most valuable in Europe and, with the right management and policy approach to support both offshore and onshore interests, they can help us to build growth in Scotland’s rural and coastal communities.”

In response Mr Stevenson asked if there had been any guarantees from the UK Government about the funding levels that support fishing communities.

He was told by the Minister that he had, at a meeting last month, he asked for the UK Government to affirm its pledges on EU funding of £500million a year for the rural economy.

Mr Ewing said since the referendum to exit the European Union, there had been “radio silence” on support for the fishing industry.

He said the Scottish Government would “fight and fight again” for a fair deal.

Stewart Stevenson MSP commented:

“Yet again we have no clear assurances from the UK Government on how it will support the fishing industry during the negotiations to exit the European Union.

“Rather, the only information we can get in the public domain about what support is being provided, merely shows how low down the rung this vital sector appears to be to the UK Government.

“David Mundell has already refused to promise fishing powers would return to Scotland following our exit from the European Union despite the fact we were told power would be automatically returned to Holyrood – a move which ignores that Scotland have had responsibility over agriculture and fishing since day one.

“We cannot, as Mr Ewing warned, allow the fishing industry to be made expendable as it was in the 1970s.”

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