The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has written to the Scottish and UK fisheries ministers outlining key questions that must be answered from both sides of the independence referendum debate on the implications for fishing should there be constitutional change.
The changed relationship with Europe would be of profound importance to the Scottish fishing industry, as would the altered fishing opportunity. According to the SFF, the debate so far has been mostly superficial, with no proper analysis of risk and benefit.
In the letter to Scots Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead, and UK Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, the SFF has underlined that as an organisation it is apolitical and cannot take a view on independence - but it has been charged by its members to ask questions so as to provide more clarity that will enable individual fishermen to make their own minds up.
In the letter, SFF chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, says: “We note with some disappointment, but perhaps less surprise, that already the messenger has been focused upon rather than the questions in the message. The process from now will be better served by noting that the SFF is not seeking to take a position on independence, it is asking the questions which will clarify for all the balance of risk and benefit.”
The SFF has identified three core areas where more clarity and proper risk/benefits analyses are required: the ‘European Journey’; the management of fishing in an independent Scotland; and the new business environment.
The letter concludes: “Ministers who deal with fishing and associated activities in both the UK and Scottish Governments are requested to address them in time for individuals to make informed assessments before referendum day.”