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Scotland and UK Gov's Must Work Closely, say Scottish Fishing Groups

19 September 2014

SCOTLAND, UK - As the announcement comes in that Scotland has voted against independence, the Scottish Fishing groups have said that despite the result, there still needs to be a change in how Scotland, as part of the UK, works with the EU.

Commenting on the result of the referendum today rejecting independence for Scotland, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of SFF said: “Whilst the decision has been made for the constitutional status quo, as far as fishing is concerned there will most definitely need to be change in how we work together as an EU member state.

“For the last 18 months, the Scottish Government has lived in two parallel universes: engaging in normal business such as international negotiations, but pursuing at every opportunity the argument for separation. The Scottish Government had a mandate for this and it was absolutely right and necessary for the referendum process to run its course.

“But now that the referendum is over, the Scottish and UK governments need to work together as closely as possible. There are many challenges facing fishing, most notably the forthcoming discards ban, which has the potential to devastate our fishing fleets. We have had enough arm-wrestling during the independence debate, now is the time to work as a united team to get the best deal possible for fishing. We will be contacting both Fisheries Ministers in the coming days to set this in train and we are committed to playing our part in the process.”

The Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association chief executive Mike Park has also called on the Scottish and UK governments to work together for the benefit of the fishing industry.

He said: “This has been a divisive period in Scottish politics, but we have a result and I hope politicians on both sides can look forward and unite to help fishermen deal with the difficult issues that lie ahead.

“In particular, there is now a good understanding among politicians and officials of the threat to the industry posed by the discard ban and we’d like to see both governments taking a robust stance with the EU and helping us to come up with a workable solution.”

The Shetland Fishermen’s Association noted that now a decision on independence has been made, the focus must now turn to seeing off the threat from the discard ban.

“When it comes to the major issues that the fishing industry faces, such as the discard ban, we are seeking confirmation that the Scottish government will use its devolved powers to back our communities in their fight against clumsy and unworkable legislation handed down from Brussels,” Leslie Tait, chairman of Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said.

“Now that the period of uncertainty about how we will be governed is over, I sincerely hope that politicians and officials with responsibility for fisheries policy will focus their minds on helping to build a workable future for the men who go to sea and communities that depend on fish catching.”

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