Nicola Sturgeon to hold talks on Brexit and the seafood sector
Nicola Sturgeon will host a roundtable meeting with representatives from the fishing sector to discuss the impact of Brexit on jobs, trade and market access.
With EU member states accounting for seven out of 10 of Scottish seafood’s current top overseas export markets, and 79 per cent of the sector’s exports outside the UK, the First Minister will hold talks on how to mitigate the effect of Brexit on the industry.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation was strongly in favour of Brexit during the referendum campaign, with the organisation describing it as a “sea of opportunity”.
But industry groups have expressed concern over the prospect of the UK remaining within the Common Fisheries Policy after leaving the EU, with Tory MSP Douglas Ross critical of plans to remain in the group for two years, during a post-Brexit transition.
He said: “There is no spinning this as a good outcome. It would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick than to try to sell this as a success.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing will also attend the meeting. He said: “The Scottish seafood sector has gone from strength to strength in recent years and is an important part of our economy – but the UK Government’s lack of clarity on how the industry will be affected by Brexit is putting the livelihoods of workers and communities at risk. With seafood exports to the EU worth £725 million last year, the industry needs an assurance that it can continue to easily access EU markets.
“Increased trade barriers and customs delays – as well as question marks over our ability to attract and retain migrant workers and our continued access to EU funding – could all harm the entire seafood chain if it is not addressed sensibly through the UK Government’s Brexit negotiations.
“The Scottish Government’s firm view is that the least damaging Brexit would involve continued membership of the single market and customs union. However, in the absence of any realistic UK Government position, this summit is an opportunity to hear the seafood sector’s concerns so we can push for more clarity – this will also help us shape our national discussions around the future of fisheries management in Scotland.”
The Scottish Government said the summit would allow representatives from the fishing industry, fish processing, aquaculture, environmentalists, scientists, port authorities and those from the food and drink sector to raise their key priorities for the future.