Stevenson calls for single voice on fishing

Stewart Stevenson MSP at Peterhead Fish Market with Cabinet Secretary for Fisheries, Fergus Ewing, Eilidh Whiteford MP and Michael Bates of the Scottish Seafood Association.
Stewart Stevenson MSP at Peterhead Fish Market with Cabinet Secretary for Fisheries, Fergus Ewing, Eilidh Whiteford MP and Michael Bates of the Scottish Seafood Association.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson has called for all political parties to speak with a single voice on fishing.

Mr Stevenson spoke during the annual Parliamentary debate on sea fisheries and end-year negotiations, and drew attention to the historical issues facing fishing and called for all political parties to speak with a single voice in support of fishing.

Calls for unity were echoed during the debate and by the Cabinet Secretary for Fisheries, Fergus Ewing. Mr Ewing announced that the Scottish Government would support all amendments to the motion in order to demonstrate to fishing communities that the Scottish Parliament, regardless of party, is completely behind them.

The motion was supported by four out of five political parties and passed with all amendments but without support from the Tories.

Mr Stevenson said: "There has been a long process of mistakes that have led us to our current position with the Common Fisheries Policy. The SNP has been opposed to it from the beginning. My colleague, Donald Stewart, who was leader of the SNP in 1982, speaking in the Westminster debate on the CFP, said of fishermen, ‘They have been betrayed. The result will be catastrophe.’ And it has been.

“In Peterhead and Fraserburgh landings were worth about £150 million. That shows you what a massive impact these negotiations will have on my constituents – but it goes beyond them. Scotland has fishing communities from Lerwick in the north to Eyemouth in the south. Fishing communities across Scotland are watching these negotiations and it’s vital we get them the best deal possible.

“During the debate I made it clear that fishing needs support across the political divide – Our fishing communities need us to unite behind them. I was very pleased to hear the Cabinet Secretary echo this sentiment. The Scottish Government sought to use this opportunity to unite the Parliament behind our fishermen. I’m disappointed that the Tories failed to support the motion – the Conservative amendment was accepted and four of the five parties in Parliament supported the motion.

"The Tories had an opportunity to send Scottish and UK fishing a clear message of support – instead they once again demonstrate that they’re only here to protect their own narrow political interests.