Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Fisheries Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th November 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I begin by thanking Mr Cameron for his closing remarks, and all members for what has been a largely constructive debate. I appreciate the support of Mr Smyth, Mr Rumbles and other members in respect of the hard work in the negotiations. We are fortunate to have in Scotland some of the most respected negotiation officials in the fishing world. We will do our best to get the best result for our fishing community and the future sustainability of stocks.

I do not have time to respond to all the wide range of points that have been made. I mean no disrespect; if a member wishes to pursue a particular point, please press me on it and we will have a discussion.

I welcome the support that Mr Smyth expressed in his speech. There is not a great deal that separates our stances. Equally, in his analysis, Mr Rumbles displayed a shrewd sense of the difficulties that lie in wait in the—unfortunate, in my view—event that Brexit proceeds.

Angus MacDonald asked me about the impact of having up to 200,000 export health certificates and whether the UK Government had responded to my request for that to be avoided through derogation and by agreeing to dynamic alignment. I have had no further information from the UK Government. At a meeting some weeks ago, I asked George Eustice whether the UK Government would press for that and he said that if they did, they would be turned down. I said, “How do you know if you don’t ask?” That is where matters stand. That could cost the industry between £7 million and £15 million.

Mr Finnie, Dr Allan, Mr Stevenson, Angus MacDonald and many other members said that if there are delays, particularly for shellfish from small operators and businesses on the west coast in places such as Loch Fyne, where I was yesterday—Elaine Whyte of the Clyde Fishermen’s Association made this point—the goods will become valueless and the businesses will face bankruptcy. That will be disastrous.

In the past nine days, I have visited Harris, Campbeltown and Portree, so I can say—I think that Mr Finnie will agree—that many people in the fishing communities on the west coast are not ardent Brexiteers, but quite the opposite. The point needs to be made that fishing around the coast is diverse; it is not homogeneous and there are many aspects to it. It is therefore wrong to present opinion as if it is a monolith, because it is not.