At an in-person meeting in Fraserburgh, Scotland, on 5 August, Scottish fisheries leaders urged United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help them build back the industry after the Brexit deal.
Scottish Seafood Association Chief Executive Jimmy Buchan told Johnson Brexit and COVID-19 have combined to create a “perilous situation” for companies, with production and export capacity severely reduced, especially due to a related labor shortage.
“I, along with others from the catching sector, made it plain to the prime minister that the Brexit deal had fallen far short of expectations. And most pertinently for the processing sector, I sought an assurance that the government would work closely with us to resolve the critical shortage of labor,” Buchan said, according to a Scottish Seafood Association press release.
Johnson backed a campaign to encourage young people to enter the industry, and noted the need for direct action to stem the “hemorrhage of overseas workers that has occurred since 1 January,” Buchan said.
Scottish White Fish Producers Association Chief Executive Mike Park urged Johnson to order an independent review of the “flawed” science behind proposed quota cuts from ICES to key species such as cod for 2022.
“Lack of fishing opportunities for our key commercial species at a time of abundant stocks is holding the whitefish fleet back severely, and it’s about to get a lot worse because of overzealous faith in flawed science,” Park said.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of accurate science has become glaringly obvious, yet in our sector jobs and income for the fleet are at risk from partial, single-source science that is totally at odds with what skippers see daily on the grounds and is never subjected to independent review," Park said.
Brexit left skippers battling for fishing opportunities while European Union vessels continued to have full access to U.K. waters, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said in a press release.
“The prime minister has spoken previously of an El Dorado of fish from 2026 onwards, but we are seeking a commitment from him to deliver much better opportunities for the Scottish fleet in the meantime as well as in the longer term,” Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Chief Executive Elspeth Macdonald said. “In the short term, it will be a case of survival for the industry, but we want to thrive and to ensure that we can build back this industry we need to start planning now.”
Photo courtesy of Scottish Fishermen’s Federation