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Cabinet reshuffle

Newly appointed secretary for the rural economy Fergus Ewing

Shetland Fishermen’s Association has welcomed the appointment of Fergus Ewing as the new Scottish fisheries minister and is seeking an early meeting with the MSP.

The former energy and tourism minister was promoted to cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, with responsibilities for fishing and farming, as part of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet reshuffle.

Former transport and islands minister Derek Mackay has been promoted and given responsibility for the budget and the new tax and welfare powers as the new finance secretary.

The transport and islands brief will be taken on by Humza Yousaf while Paul Wheelhouse has been named as minister for business, innovation and energy.

Richard Lochhead.

Simon Collins of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association said he was looking forward to working with Mr Ewing, particularly on making the discard ban regulations operable in practice and obtaining a fairer deal on mackerel.

“We believe he is someone we can do business with and will be inviting him to Shetland as soon as his diary allows so that we can share some of the progress that we have made and also highlight our concerns for the future.

“Fishing is a critical element of our economy and society here in Shetland, and it’s hugely important that we don’t harm its prospects when it is growing again after many difficult years.”

However the first task the newly appointed secretary will get to grips with is the publication of a critical Audit Scotland report into the delayed crofting and farming payments, on Thursday (19 May).

Former rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead, who has been embroiled in the controversy over the delayed CAP payments stepped down ahead of the reshuffle, saying he needed to “change the priorities” after his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer.