Managing Scotland’s Fisheries

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 14th January 2021.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

The allegation about R100 is nonsense; the R100 commitments will be fulfilled by the Scottish Government, as Paul Wheelhouse made clear in the statement that he gave last August.

I will answer the relevant questions that were posed—or those that were at least on topic. I have spoken to Food Standards Scotland several times during the past few weeks, and its staff are working around the clock with DFDS and the industry. At my behest, FSS is working closely with the industry and particular businesses within it to enable them to complete what are extremely complex sets of documents.

I have one of those documents here. It is 60 pages long. I went through it this morning so that I could understand what businesses have to do. FSS is helping businesses to work out how correctly to complete the documentation given the complexity of the process. However, even if businesses overcome that hurdle, they find other problems—for example, HMRC does not recognise particular types of fish and the IT systems are incompatible.

There are all sorts of bureaucratic problems at the UK border. Therefore, the suggestion that the Scottish Government has failed to prepare or provide adequate personnel is simply untrue, and it is not one that I have seen any UK minister seriously advance.

The fact is that these problems must be sorted out. Yesterday, I suggested to Michael Gove that he really must get a grip of the issue and the UK Government must end its complacent approach, which included a presentation to one of its committees in which the majority of deliveries across the channel were said to be “going okay”. Well, they are not “going okay” from Scotland. It is absolutely essential that the UK Government sorts out the Brexit mess that it has created.