Fisheries Negotiations

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th December 2021.

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Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the implications for the fishing sector in Scotland of the outcomes of the sea fisheries negotiations. (S6O-00507)

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

Our aim across all negotiations is to find a balanced and sustainable outcome for the Scottish fishing industry, supporting the sector today as well as ensuring its future.

I am pleased to say that the coastal states consultations have successfully concluded. We have reached agreement on 2022 catch limits for mackerel, blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring, and we have a work plan to continue sharing discussions in early 2022. We estimate the value of that deal to be around £186 million for Scotland through to 2022.

Our bilateral talks are on-going. Although we do not have the final outcomes, I assure members that we are engaging constructively with our international fishing partners to get the best possible outcome for Scotland. I will notify the Parliament of the outcome of all the negotiations when they are complete.

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

Will the cabinet secretary confirm the change to tonnage in fish exports from Scotland and whether, perchance, it reflects the improvements that were promised by proponents of Brexit?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

We have data that was obtained from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It shows that, for the first two quarters of this year, the tonnage of fish that was exported to the European Union from Scotland was just over 68,000 tonnes, which is a 13.5 per cent decrease from the amount exported over the same period in 2019. That is clear evidence of the disastrous impact of Brexit on the Scottish seafood sector, which relied heavily on the EU for trade.

In 2019, more than 70 per cent of Scottish seafood exports went to the EU and were worth more than £770 million. The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation reported losses of at least £11 million in January alone as a direct result of the changes that were brought about by Brexit. Additionally, Scottish Salmon now estimates that businesses are spending around £200,000 a month in dealing with extra paperwork. The loss in trade to the seafood sector since early January 2021 offers the clearest evidence that we have seen so far of the additional costs and associated impacts of becoming an EU third country and of the trade frictions that that has introduced.

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

The cabinet secretary will want to ensure that new offshore wind developments do not interrupt established fishing operations. Earlier this week, the Shetland Fishermen’s Association highlighted a number of concerns around data use, noting a lack of reflection on movements of non-Scottish vessels and a lack of consideration of issues caused to fishing activity outwith bottom trawling. Will the cabinet secretary look into those concerns and, if required, take action to support the industry when developments are being considered?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

I assure Jamie Halcro Johnston that my officials and I have regular engagement with the industry. If there are particular concerns that the organisation wishes to discuss with me, I am more than happy to look into them.