Fishermen clash with SNP over Brexit

The SNP is at loggerheads with Scotland’s fishermen after warning that Brexit threatens the future of the seafood industry, the Daily Telegraph reported today.
The Nationalists said seafood accounts for more than 60 per cent of Scotland’s food exports to the EU and warned that thousands of jobs could be at risk if the UK does not retain access to the European single market.
But the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation hit back by accusing the SNP of ignoring the ‘grand prize’ of taking back control of the country’s waters.
They argued that Brexit would end the hated Common Fisheries Policy, which imposes strict catch quotas and gives trawlers from other EU member states access to the ‘best fishing grounds in the world’ off Scotland’s coast.
The row comes amid growing anger in the industry at the SNP’s refusal to accept the UK-wide result to Leave in the EU referendum, with Nicola Sturgeon threatening a second independence referendum if Scotland cannot be kept in.
Fishermen have warned the Scottish government not to sell them ‘down the river’, and instead prepare to get the best deal possible for the industry in the Brexit negotiations.
The SNP today published Scottish government figures showing that Scotland exported £438 million of fish and seafood to EU countries in 2015, while £77 million of EU investment has created or safeguarded 2000 jobs in the industry since 2007.
Emma Harper, a Nationalist MSP, said: ‘Scotland’s food and drink industries are a prime example of the benefits of trading without barriers across Europe – and seafood is by far our largest food export.
‘Without tariff-free access to trade with the EU, rural Scotland would risk losing vital trade that sustains thousands of jobs as well as the EU investment that supports our seafood and agricultural industries.’
But Bertie Armstrong, the SFF’s chief executive, admitted that changes to export markets after Brexit will present a ‘challenge’ but noted there is a new UK government department to plan and deal with this.
‘However, we should not imagine that Brexit will simply slam the EU markets shut – trade is a two way thing, we will continue to produce the world-class products and people will continue to want them,’ he said.
He said it will also allow the freedom to engage with new markets that are ‘shut off’ by the EU and claimed the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry are ‘overwhelmingly positive’.
‘The restoration of our stewardship under international law of the best fishing grounds in the world – our Exclusive Economic Zone – brings the potential to be a world-leading force in sustainable harvesting and marketing of seafood.  Anxiety is understood, but it must not cause us to lower our heads and lose sight of the grand prize,’ he said.