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UK government sees fishing as ‘expendable’, says MSP

SNP Highlands and Islands list MSP Maree Todd.

A HIGHLANDS and Islands list MSP has voiced her fear that Scotland’s fishing communities will see their interests “bartered away” by the UK government during negotiations over Brexit.

Many in the fishing industry were strong advocates of a Leave vote back in June, largely due to their disdain for Brussels’ Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

But the SNP’s Maree Todd said in a debate on sea fisheries and end-year negotiations that she was concerned fishing communities would be considered “expendable” by the Tory government.

“I do not doubt that there should be opportunities for fishing post-Brexit but, like many in my community, I fear that the UK Government will once again consider the industry to be expendable and barter away our interests.”

Speaking at the SNP conference on Saturday, she criticised the CFP and said Scotland should be able to develop its own relationship with Europe so that it can make fishing a priority in EU negotiations.

She said the region she represented contained some of Europe’s richest fishing grounds, pointing out that in 2014 Scotland exported £461 million of seafood to other EU countries – amounting to 60 per cent of all food exports to the EU.

Shetland’s fishing and seafood industries are worth in excess of £300 million a year, or around a third of the islands’ overall economy.

“I share the fishermen’s fury with the CFP,” she said. “I believe it has been a disaster for the fishing communities of Scotland, for the fishermen and for the fish.”

Todd asked: “Do any of us seriously believe that fishing rights in Scottish waters will take precedence over passporting arrangements for London’s financial sector?”

She added: “With negotiations coming up, only the Scottish Government will stand up for Scotland’s fishing communities because only the Scottish Government will stand up for the Scottish people.”