Fishing crews chart unknown waters of Brexit

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing met representatives from the Dunbar Fishermens Association which will receive around �102,000 to develop a new cold store.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing met representatives from the Dunbar Fishermens Association which will receive around �102,000 to develop a new cold store.

The future of the Scottish fishing industry after Brexit has been the subject of talks both in Scotland and at Westminster in recent days.

Many in the industry believe that leaving the EU will benefit Scottish fishing, and all agree that working together and ensuring that Scotland is an equal partner in discussions about the UK’s exit from the European Union are vital.

Calum Kerr, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk and SNP spokesperson for environment, food and rural affairs, hosted a meeting between MPs and Scottish fishing leaders at Westminster.

Mr Kerr described the meeting as a “pivotal moment” for the Scottish fishing industry, adding: “As we move into the unknown waters of Brexit, a close working dialogue with the industry is imperative in order to maximise the opportunities and manage the risks we now face.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, welcomed the opportunity to establish a working dialogue with Scottish MPs on Brexit and said: “We were given a great opportunity to explain the huge potential benefits that Brexit will bring to Scottish coastal communities in terms of jobs, economic activity and sustainable food production.”

The meeting came days after fesderation leaders met the minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, Michael Russell, and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.

“It is important that we continue to work together to retain membership of the single market and protect these opportunities as nearly half a billion pounds’ worth of seafood is exported to Europe,” said Mr Ewing afterwards.

“It is important that we recognise the value of the EU as a market of fish products, as well as providing vital funding through the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund.”

Mr Ewing later paid a visit to Dunbar harbour announcing £4.1m funding for fisheries groups and individuals including Dunbar Fishermen’s Association, which received £102,000 to develop a new cold store.

Mr Ewing also provided information on the £1.4m Scottish Government Connect Local programme to assist local producers with marketing and promotional support.