Responding to the publication of the UK Government’s draft fisheries White Paper, “Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations”, Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“It is deeply frustrating that once again the UK Government has failed to substantively engage with us while developing its future fisheries proposals. This near lack of formal engagement presents a significant and continued risk to the current devolved settlements and is totally unacceptable.

“We have significant concerns as to whether some of the proposals, such as charging for fish in excess of quota, are viable if we are to prevent overfishing to ensure sustainability. We are also deeply concerned that the paper does not appear to recognise the vital contribution that European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) monies have to the sustainable growth and success of the industry.

“The paper completely ignores the critical importance of ongoing access to labour for the seafood processing sector and, whilst acknowledging seafood trade as “vital”,  provides no detail whatsoever on how seafood exports will be protected from potentially damaging trade barriers. We can only conclude from this that political considerations and undeliverable promises are far more important to the UK Government than the real needs of businesses and coastal communities, and economic reality.

“In addition there are a number of areas where clarity is required not least where exactly it is being proposed as a UK approach and where the proposals are for England only. As I have said repeatedly, there is not a UK fisheries policy and to suggest so is misleading. There are legitimately different regimes for different regional fisheries, and fishing is fully devolved.

“Had the document been shared with us at an earlier stage, many of these issues might have been address through constructive engagement and dialogue. Unfortunately, by only sharing the final copy a matter of days before its publication, the UK Government chose to significantly limit the scope for that.

“I have repeatedly signalled my willingness to engage on a range of EU exit issues in good faith. However, I will continue to resolutely oppose any attempt to interfere with the established powers of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish zone or Scottish vessels wherever they operate”