Scotland’s fishing fleet is a key contributor to the success of our wider seafood industry and coastal communities, and the Scottish Government will always champion their interests. That success, however, has also been built on frictionless trade with the European Union, close partnerships with neighbouring coastal states and access to vital EU labour and funding, all of which are jeopardised by the UK Government’s approach. That is why the Scottish Government continues to support a deal with the EU that protects the interests of the whole seafood supply chain in Scotland, not just individual parts of it.
Before I take your supplementary question, Mr Chapman, tedious though it is, I note that the question wording that I have refers to “independent coastline”, not “independent coastal state”. I thought that I would draw that to your attention.
I now ask you for your supplementary, in which you can, of course, say what you like, as long as it is relevant.
Thank you, Presiding Officer. I got the wording changed to what I said.
The Scottish National Party’s policy is to hand back powers over fishing to the EU and to rejoin the hated common fisheries policy. What will the minister say to north-east fishermen, who have campaigned all their lives to get out of a policy that has decimated their industry, to explain why the Scottish Government’s policy is to rejoin it?
As we know, the Scottish Government’s clear priority is for Scotland to become a member state of the European Union. Until such time as we can rejoin the EU, our preference is for negotiations on access and quotas to take place annually under the coastal states framework and in line with international law.
Our policy is to take account of every aspect of the needs of the fishing sector. That is completely at odds with the profoundly disingenuous approach to negotiations that has been taken by the UK Government. It is high time that the UK Government was honest with the fishing industry and the wider seafood supply chain about the implications of its approach. Either it is going to sell out the fishing industry—again—by seeking permanent access and fixed quota shares with no influence over the common fisheries policy, or it will accept new trade barriers that will devastate the competitiveness of Scottish seafood. To Peter Chapman I say that either would be wrong, wrong, wrong.
There was a point of order, which was not really a point of order, about the fact that back benchers were not being called. If members ask lengthy supplementary questions and ministers give lengthy answers, we cannot get through the questions. My colleague Linda Fabiani is waiting in the wings and will agree with me. We are in your hands a great deal of the time and we are weary of asking for brief supplementary questions and, as far as possible, brief answers. Other members are entitled to ask their questions and we would like to be able to fit them in. Thank you. There will now be a pause while I cool down.