FISHERMEN are the latest industrial group to start campaigning for a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
Around 50 people working in the industry, including the manager of Shetland’s award-winning fish and chip shop Frankie’s, have signed up to Fishing for Yes, which was launched on Tuesday.
John Gold said: “Shetland relies on a thriving fishing industry but for decades the UK government has made all the wrong decisions for our fishing communities.
“Where has the fishing industry been on Westminster’s radar?
“I believe the industry will have a better chance of influencing our own Scottish government than a Westminster system that simply isn’t interested.”
The campaign was launched by David Gatt, skipper of the Fraserburgh white fish boat Audacious, at Peterhead harbour, who said independence would give Scotland a stronger voice in Europe.
The campaign’s five key points are that a Yes vote will:
- make fishing a national priority
- provide direct representation in the EU
- protect Scotland’s fishing quotas
- offer a fairer share of the EU fisheries budget
- ensure Scotland’s fishing levies promote Scottish seafood.
Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the campaign’s launch, saying the UK did not allow Scotland to be represented at the top table in quota negotiations despite having 70 per cent of the UK’s fishing industry.
“The reality is that fishing is much more important to Scotland than the rest of the UK. We would never use out fisheries as a bargaining chip in wider negotiations as the UK government currently does,” he said.
He added that Scotland would be able to claim a far greater share of the European Fisheries Fund amounting to an extra £50 million.
In response the Better Together campaign published a letter by Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong to first minister Alex Salmond regarding a speech he made about the consequences of Scotland being excluded from the European Union post-independence, raising concerns about the treatment of foreign vessels in Scottish waters and access to EU funding.
Please also read this letter by Frankie’s owner Valerie Johnson in response to this story.