FIVE key gains for the fishing industry have been set out in a new report published by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
Lochhead said that only independence will ensure Scotland’s fishing will be a national priority and ensure that the industry thrives for generations to come.
The five gains for the fishing sector set out in more detail in the report are:
• Fishing will be a national priority
• Direct representation in the EU and ability to negotiate our priorities without compromise
• Protection of Scotland’s fishing quotas
• Fairer share of EU Fisheries budget
• Ensure Scotland’s fishing levies promote Scottish seafood
Lochhead said: ‘Scotland’s fishing and seafood sectors are great industries and play an important part in our economic success and in our social and cultural identity.
‘As such they are many times more important to Scotland than to the UK as a whole, and for that reason they will be a much greater priority in an independent Scotland.
‘Only with independence will Scotland’s fishing industry benefit from greater influence, better representation, a fairer deal in funding, and quota protection.
‘Freed from the existing constitutional arrangements, where it is not a national priority, it is a sector which will flourish.
‘With independence, quota – which is the lifeblood of the fishing industry – will be protected. A vote for independence will mean that we can protect our fishing sector and our rich heritage as an eminent fishing nation for this and future generations by stopping our quota being sold outside Scotland.
‘Scotland is already one of the EU’s leading fishing nations as our waters account for at least 20 per cent of the European Union’s catch and fourth largest of the EU’s core sea areas.
‘We are already at the centre of Europe’s complex fisheries management arrangements and independence will bring greater influence on the decision making process.
‘As an independent Member State we will have a greater influence on the issues that matter most to us. It will bring an end to the ludicrous situation where the landlocked countries of Europe, such as Slovakia, Austria and Luxembourg, we can even speak on EU fisheries policy, while Scotland currently cannot.
‘And it will end the situation where time and again I am forced to sit in silence while other nations of Scotland’s size – and smaller – make their case and secure key concessions for their fishing industries.
‘Independence will give us the voice we need to negotiate a fairer share of European fisheries budgets to help our fishermen and the wider industry.
‘Unlike the UK Government, which has sought to reduce the size of these funds – and whose negotiation tactics have left Scotland third bottom of the European fisheries funding league tables – we will fight for a fair deal where the funding Scotland receives is relative to the size of the industry we have.’