The fishing industry should be the fastest growing sector of the Scottish economy in the next decade.

That is the ambition of new Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Elspeth Macdonald as she takes over from her predecessor Bertie Armstrong.

Ms Macdonald is leading a team from across the industry at Westminster this week, lobbying ministers and officials to ensure that its Brexit red lines are not crossed.

“Our ambition is for this to be the fastest growing sector of the Scottish economy over the next decade,” she said.

“To do that, we will require an uplift in quota in the short term upon leaving the Common Fisheries Policy.

“But that has to be coupled with a long-term blueprint for growth so that we can seize the opportunities that life outside the CFP presents.

“We want to work with governments across the UK and with the whole supply chain to ensure that we grasp these benefits and make the most of them, both for the wider economy and in particular for our coastal communities.”

Ms Macdonald emphasised that the industry’s requirements had been clearly and consistently stated since the referendum of June 2016:

  • That the UK becomes a sovereign Coastal State and regains full control over its own waters, known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • That in doing so the UK and Scottish governments have the power to determine, in relation to our fisheries resource, who gets to catch what, where and when for the benefit of our coastal communities and wider economies.
  • That the Scottish industry is able to seize the “Sea of Opportunity” that exiting the EU presents, gaining early wins in the form of quota uplift and year-on-year gains thereafter.
  • That sustainability of our fisheries will be enhanced by jettisoning the practice enshrined in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of allocating some 60% of fishing opportunity in UK waters to non-UK EU vessels, moving instead to a modern and evidence-based method of allocation according to where fish stocks actually are (zonal attachment).
  • That no linkage should be made between access to UK waters (for EU vessels) and access to EU markets (for UK fish traders or other industries).

Ms Macdonald added: “We sincerely hope that the UK government resists any temptation to reach a backroom deal that erodes in any way these fundamental tenets, whatever the nature of any agreement that is reached or otherwise.

“This would be regarded within the industry as a betrayal of previous and current political promises. Similarly, any extension of the present CFP arrangements beyond the current endpoint for an implementation period would be intolerable, given the nature and timing of international fisheries negotiations.

“The certainty that the catching sector craves is best delivered in the shortest timescale possible, in order that the UK regains control of access to our waters and fishing opportunities.”

Video clip: https://vimeo.com/359007490