Withdrawal Bill amendments leave Scottish fishing exposed

Stewart Stevenson MSP
Stewart Stevenson MSP

The amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill tabled this week at Westminster expose the Scottish fishing industry to further betrayal by the Tories, according to the SNP.

Last month the Tory UK government confirmed that the rights of Scottish fishermen would be used as bargaining chips in negotiations with the EU, despite Brexiteers promising that a Leave vote in 2016 would mean taking back control of our fishing waters.

The latest Tory amendments to the Withdrawal Bill would prevent the Scottish Parliament legislating to protect fishing communities for up to seven years – with Westminster being able to dictate how we manage our fisheries and having the power to further barter away any of Scotland’s fishing interests during that time.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “The Tories have one view of Scottish fishing, and one view alone – they see it as ‘expendable’. They think they can do what they want to Scotland’s fishing sector and get away with it – bartering away an industry with a proud past and a bright future, and the many jobs which it supports.

“Just a few weeks ago the Tories let the cat out of the bag, that we would remain in the CFP after Brexit with no seat at the table in negotiations. Despite the wild promises of the Brexiteers, under Tory plans there will be no taking back control of Scottish waters, no influence in fishery reforms, no say in quotas – it’s an absolute disgrace.

“The amendments to the Withdrawal Bill this week will only compound the fears of Scottish fishermen.

“Even if the Scottish Parliament expressly refused consent to Westminster calling the shots on fishing – a devolved power under the Scotland Act – the Tories could dictate rules and impose restrictions on Scottish fishing anyway, without our say.

“We cannot – and will not – agree to legislation that puts Scottish fishing in such peril.

“With hundreds of millions of pounds of value to Scotland’s economy at stake, this situation makes clear that powers over Scottish fishing should be exercised in Scotland – with our government taking the lead to negotiate the best deal, unlike the Tories who will always see the industry as expendable.”