Buchan politicians hold talks with fishing industry

The audience included Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermens Federation (SFF) and Jimmy Buchan, business manager of the Scottish Seafood Association
The audience included Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermens Federation (SFF) and Jimmy Buchan, business manager of the Scottish Seafood Association

Scottish Conservative politicians have held talks with north east skippers and industry leaders to discuss the EU withdrawal agreement and the impact on the sector.

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid and Holyrood fisheries spokesman Peter Chapman MSP hosted a group of 30 people for a question and answer session in Aberdeenshire.

The audience included Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and Jimmy Buchan, business manager of the Scottish Seafood Association, along with skippers of boats based out of Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Macduff.

DEFRA Secretary of State Michael Gove also took questions from the group via telephone from Surrey, and insisting that all concerned “keep their eyes on the prize”.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Duguid said: “I have been working hard since my election 18 months ago to further the interest of fishermen in my constituency and indeed across the country.

“I wanted to offer the skippers and the representatives of both the catching and processing sectors the chance to raise their concerns.

“It is clear that there are concerns about the deal and the future arrangements.

“However, we were able to address most of those concerns today. By the end, there was broad agreement that we do need to get the withdrawal agreement through parliament and move on to the next stage of negotiations.

“The message was clear, the UK Government must stay the course and the Prime Minister must maintain a tough line with the EU.”

Mr Chapman added: “It was great to see so many people in the room for this meeting. The turnout shows the strength of feeling locally on this issue.

“I said during the meeting that I don’t think fishing has ever been as prominent in national political discourse as it is today.

“Michael Gove made clear that it is in the interests of the EU 27 to strike a fisheries agreement and an economic agreement with us, but if not, EU boats will be locked out of our waters. That is the default position and Mr Gove and the Prime Minister could not be more clear,” he added.