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Fish Processing

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th October 2017.

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Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support the fish processing industry. (S5O-01338)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

We are taking a number of steps to support the fish processing industry. We continue to provide vital funding through our European fisheries funds to support processors to invest in their facilities. Since 2007, we have provided more than £30 million to support 146 businesses in Scotland. As the member will be aware, we have also published proposals for a Scottish landings target to increase landings of fish by Scottish vessels into Scotland, thus giving processors more raw material to market. Further, we are providing £250,000 a year to Seafood Scotland to enable it to promote the sector in Scotland and at international trade shows. In addition, we are working with the industry to develop a new sector-specific action plan to exploit further growth opportunities.

Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

We expect increased tonnages of fish landings post-Brexit, so it is very concerning that, between 2008 and 2016 in Scotland, there was a 34 per cent decline in fish processing factories and a 12 per cent decline in people employed processing fish. Those fish are being driven to areas such as Grimsby where there are significantly lower business rates and running costs. There seems to be no Scottish Government support for driving down costs in the industry and processors in Scotland are struggling with high business rates, water charges and effluent charges. Will the Government commit to helping to build the industry and stop our fish being driven out of Scotland?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

That was a remarkable question from Peter Chapman, for a number of reasons. Let me try to be constructive and helpful where I can, though. My colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution recently met the Grampian seafood alliance and wrote to Tory-led Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council reminding them that community empowerment legislation gives them the powers to introduce specific rates relief for the fish processing industry.

It is quite incredible that Peter Chapman mentions the decline in employment in the industry. According to statistics for Grampian, 70 per cent of those employed in the fish processing industry there are European Union nationals. Will Peter Chapman join the Scottish Government in calling on the United Kingdom Government not to push for a hard Brexit and to say that EU citizens make a contribution, whether it is in fish processing, hospitality or many other sectors across Scotland?

Further to that, will the member join the Scottish Government in saying to the UK Government that any money for the European marine fisheries fund that comes back to the UK must come back to Scotland and be spent on our fishermen? I can guarantee that if Mr Chapman does that, he will not be receiving his P45.