SFF calls for industry clarification

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has voiced its concern over the upcoming Scottish referendum and the implications it could have on the industry.

In a letter to both the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead, and UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice, the organisation questioned “the European journey, the management of fishing in an independent Scotland, and the new business environment”.

The SFF has since received replies from both Ministers.

If Scotland is to leave the UK and become a separate country, it will miss out on the benefits of UK influence in Europe and Scottish membership of the EU cannot be guaranteed, says George Eustice. As a result, a separate Scottish state that was not part of the EU would manage its own fisheries within its national waters. Any wider access beyond Scottish waters would be subject to negotiations with other countries and the EU.

Access to funding under the EFF successor – the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund – would also stop. This was worth around €55m to Scotland, from a UK total of €138m.

Despite this, Richard Lochhead outlined the five main gains that independence would bring for the Scottish fishing industry: fishing would be a national priority, direct representation in the EU and ability to negotiate own priorities, protection of Scottish fishing quota, fairer share of European funding, ensuring Scottish fishing levies promote Scottish seafood.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive, SFF, said: “We are delighted to have received replies from both ministers. Our executive committee will review the letters in due course for a detailed analysis.”

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