Fergus Ewing urges UK government to "come clean" on plans for fisheries policy after Brexit
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claims the UK Government has not honoured promises to share information on the progress of Brexit negotiations
Fishing boat - image credit: PA
The UK “needs to come clean” on its plans for fisheries policy after Brexit, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has said.
Speaking ahead of talks with the UK Fisheries Minister and representatives from the devolved administrations and industry on 2018 fish quotas, Ewing warned that “continued uncertainty and lack of clarity about what the future holds” had been “compounded by the UK Government’s confusion on what the transition period post Brexit might mean for fisheries”.
The comments came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed the UK Government has not honoured promises to share information on the progress of Brexit negotiations.
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The FM called on the UK government to provide clarity on agriculture and fisheries in particular, saying that “despite reassurances that all devolved administrations will be consulted on the withdrawal negotiations, we remain substantially in the dark”.
While ministers have expressed concern over the effect of Brexit on farming and fisheries support, new analysis shows EU migrants to Scotland contribute more than £4.4bn to GDP each year.
The Scottish Government’s response to the UK Migration Advisory Committee shows that each of the 128,000 EU nationals working in Scotland contribute an average of £34,400 to GDP every year, with Europe Minister Alasdair Allan suggesting that restrictions on migration from the EU would hit the agriculture sector, financial services companies and the NHS.
Speaking ahead of the fisheries meeting, Ewing said: “Against a backdrop of complex science and lack of agreement by the Coastal States on some stocks, there is no doubt that this year’s fisheries negotiations will be difficult.
“This meeting is an opportunity to show that we are all fully focussed on the needs and interests of our respective fishing industries. I will be fighting to get the strongest possible outcome for Scotland.
“There is no doubt that the continued uncertainty and lack of clarity about what the future holds is uppermost in Ministerial and stakeholders’ minds. That has been compounded by the UK Government’s confusion on what the transition period post Brexit might mean for fisheries.
“The UK needs to come clean and share its future plans with us. I hope we can all focus on these vital current negotiations. Scotland’s fishing industry – both onshore and offshore – is currently in good economic health. I want to ensure that this continues.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of the fishing industry to Scotland and have consistently and successfully worked with Devolved Administrations to secure the best deal for UK fishermen at the annual quota negotiations.
“Today’s meeting provides a valuable opportunity to hear views from across the UK ahead of these crucial negotiations, helping us represent the interests of the whole fleet and deliver our objectives for sustainable fishing and a profitable industry.”
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