MSP says loss of fishing industry jobs is a tragedy

John Lamont at St Abbs
John Lamont at St Abbs

The decline in agricultural and textile jobs in the Borders is nothing compared to the decline of the region’s fishing industry.

New job sector figures show that traditional industries in the region are in steady decline and the number of Berwickshire fishermen fell so low in 2015 that they recorded a zero in the Scottish Government’s data for the Ettrick, Roxburgh, and Berwickshire constituency.

The information, provided in response to a parliamentary question from Borders MSP John Lamont, reveals that since 2007, the total number working in textiles has fallen by 28% (500) and the agricultural workforce has fallen by 8%. Mr Lamont said: “These figures show a steady decline in employment in some really important sectors in the Scottish Borders.

“However, the extent of the decline in textiles and fishing is concerning because they represent real jobs being lost in the industry.

“To have so few jobs left in the fishing sector is a tragedy.

“Much more needs to be done by the SNP Government to attract and retain local businesses and local jobs.

“Their current piecemeal approach is failing these sectors at a time when the Borders needs some bold action.”

Many fishermen put the blame for Berwickshire and Scotland’s declining fishing industry at the door of the European Union and believe their prospects could improve outside it.

Speaking at a fishing industry event last week Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said that if handled correctly, Brexit would deliver tangible benefits to coastal communities and help them prosper.

“Our 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) has some of the best and most productive fishing grounds in the world,” he said.

“Regaining control of our EEZ will bring real benefit to coastal communities, not just in the catching sector but in processing and all through the supply chain in the form of increased economic activity.

“There will, of course, be challenges, but we believe the balance is unmistakeably on the side of opportunity.”