Scottish minister raises concerns about UK fisheries proposal

Published on
July 6, 2018
Fergus Ewing

The Scottish government was not properly consulted on the new post-Brexit fisheries management policy tabled by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and has "significant concerns" about some of the proposals, said Scottish Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing.

Responding to the publication of the White Paper, “Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations,” Ewing said it was “deeply frustrating” that once again the U.K. government had failed to “substantively engage” with Scottish leaders while developing its proposals. 

“This near lack of formal engagement presents a significant and continued risk to the current devolved settlements and is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“We have significant concerns as to whether some of the proposals, such as charging for fish caught in excess of quota, are viable if we are to prevent overfishing and ensure sustainability. We are also deeply concerned that the paper does not appear to recognize the vital contribution that European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) monies have to the sustainable growth and success of the industry," Ewing said. “The paper completely ignores the critical importance of ongoing access to labor for the seafood processing sector and, [while] acknowledging seafood trade as ‘vital,’ provides no detail whatsoever on how seafood exports will be protected from potentially damaging trade barriers. We can only conclude from this that political considerations and undeliverable promises are far more important to the U.K. government than the real needs of businesses and coastal communities, and economic reality.” 

In addition, Ewing said there are a number of areas where clarity is required on what is being proposed as a U.K. approach and where the proposals are for England only. 

“Had the document been shared with us at an earlier stage, many of these issues might have been addressed through constructive engagement and dialogue. Unfortunately, by only sharing the final copy a matter of days before its publication, the [U.K. government] chose to significantly limit the scope for that," he said.

Industry, NGOs and other stakeholders have until 12 September, 2018, to respond to DEFRA’s White Paper.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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