Scottish fishing industry optimistic following Brexit

Published on
June 30, 2016

The EU referendum result that saw the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union gives real hope for Scotland’s fishing fleet, according to industry representatives.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said that leaving the bloc gives fishermen “the ability to recover proper, sustainable and rational stewardship through our own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for fisheries, just like Norway, Iceland and the Faroes.” 

The entire Scottish fishing community was in favor of Brexit, he said, though a majority of voters in Scotland voted to remain in the E.U.

Armstrong said, “For Scotland’s economically important fishing industry, we believe the new opportunities presented by the referendum result are overwhelmingly for the better," and that with the United Kingdom taking control of its own fishing decisions “the ills of the past of overfishing and incoherent regulation could be banished.”

As the process of leaving the E.U. progresses, Armstrong urged decision-makers to clarify their future intensions for fishing.

“Our national governments must work closely with the industry over the coming months and years to ensure that the right framework is put in place to deliver a prosperous future,” he said.

Similarly, the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA) and Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) said they believe there will be no long-term benefits for the industry unless it collaborates closely with the U.K. and Scottish governments to devise new fisheries policies.

“European Union fisheries policy is flawed – that is why so many fishermen voted to leave,” said Mike Park, chief executive of the SWFPA. “But we need to recognize that there are significant dangers to the industry if the U.K. and Scottish governments do not react to the very clear message by focusing on a new approach that recognizes fishermen themselves and their communities as the key stakeholders.

“Members of the SWFPA insist that we stay on course with regard to sustainable harvesting and sensible fishing, and they are equally insistent that unworkable laws be changed,” he said.

SFA Executive Officer Simon Collins said, “We will be looking to work together with politicians and civil servants in Edinburgh and London to focus on helping the industry secure improved fishing opportunities and a set of practical, sensible rules that everyone can adhere to while preserving livelihoods and fish stocks.”

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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