MSPs battle of words over EU fisheries deal

berwickshire’s fishing boats will be confined to ports for longer making it harder to cash in the on rises in fish quotas agreed by EU Fisheries Ministers for 2012.

Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead said big challenges remain, while Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, criticised the cuts in days at sea - estimated at between 15-25 per cent.

South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse (SNP) was critical of the UK minister’s handling of the talks, citing it as another instance where he believes an independent Scotland could have done better.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Increasing the quota but reducing the days at sea is a dangerous position to put our fishermen in, as communities such as Eyemouth can testify.

“Our local fishing communities along the Berwickshire and East Lothian coast simply can’t afford to be put again in jeopardy by the ineptitude of indulging in European-bashings led by David Cameron and his Little Englander backbenchers. Scotland needs its own voice at such negotiations.”

Berwickshire MSP John Lamont hit back saying: “News that our fishermen have been allowed to have larger catch quotas is undoubtedly good news and something that should be welcomed. While it is disappointing that they will have fewer days at sea, these talks have been on-going for weeks and it is a relief to finally have some certainty over the issue.

“For the SNP to complain about this deal is sheer hypocrisy. They had a representative at the table, Richard Lochhead, and if they are disappointed then the blame should surely lie with him.

“While this deal might not be perfect for our fishermen along the Berwickshire coast, it would have been far worse had we not had the strength to negotiate as part of the UK.”