Having read The Times article and editorial earlier this week, I write to clarify the position of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation with regards to the Withdrawal Bill and the UK’s exit from the EU.
Post Brexit, we are driven by and will argue for the arrangements which provide the most sustainable and beneficial future for our fishing communities outside the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy.
Let me be clear: the SFF has no ideological constitutional position but rather will advocate preferred practical outcomes and then support whichever constitutional route best delivers them. To suggest that we “throw our weight behind SNP policy” is not correct. We no more back SNP policy than we back Conservative policy. Instead and with some vigour, we advocate best fishing policy. It is for others, be they political parties, parliaments or governments, to hopefully agree with us.
Our starting point is that, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, the current set up works. Day to day fishing management is devolved and must continue to be so – that we will defend. International negotiations are done by the UK, taking proper account of regional stakeholder interests. That we will defend also, while seeking refinement. So, we argue for the status quo with logical enhancements and not, as The Times seemed to suggest, any major shift in the internal constitutional mix of the UK.
Thus, if agreement can be reached between the UK and Scottish governments on the post Brexit division of powers between Westminster and Holyrood then Clause 11 of the withdrawal Bill becomes much less of an issue. We demand that the focus is set on best fishing outcome not on the political process.
In the meantime we will continue to use whatever influence we have to press both of Scotland’s governments to help us deliver on the Sea of Opportunity which Brexit presents and when we will, at long last, leave the Common Fisheries Policy.
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation