Richard Lochhead calls for a yes vote for Scottish independence. (Photo Credit: www.scotland.gov.uk/CrownCopyright/Open Government Licence v1.0./FIS)
Independence means multi-million opportunity for Scottish fishing industry, says Lochhead
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has set out how independence will deliver a better deal for Scottish fishermen and highlighted how Westminster has negotiated Scotland to third bottom of the 25 nations on the EU fisheries funding league table.
Scotland will receive an allocation of EUR 107 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) over the next seven years. Scotland’s share of the fund equates to EUR 49 per tonne of fish landed – only 1.9 per cent of the total EMFF allocation – significantly less than other fishing nations.
However, with the powers of independence the Scottish could have argued strongly for far higher funding. For example, if Scotland had received the average EMFF allocation per tonne of fish landed, which is EUR 171 per tonne, Scotland would have received around EUR 370 million, the Scottish National Party (SNP) states.
“With the powers and representation at the top table that independence will bring for Scotland, Scotland has a great opportunity to negotiate a much better funding deal than we get at present," Lochhead said.
“Despite being a leading fishing nation the level of funding we receive is a damning indictment of the Westminster Government’s abysmally poor ability to negotiate effectively on Scotland’s behalf.
“To make matters worse, and against Scotland’s wishes, the general policy of the UK Government is to reduce the size of European funds and in line with this policy it sought to reduce further the funds provided via the EMFF – and thereby the support available to Scotland’s fishing, aquaculture and fish processing industries.
“These are funds which help the sustainable development of fishing communities across Scotland. They are used in a variety of ways including enabling the delivery of research and innovation to the industry, providing vital help to re-fit ageing vessels and aid for the modernisation of on-shore facilities.
“If we were currently independent we could be investing hundreds of millions of euros of extra funding in our industry. With independence we will be able to negotiate for a significant increase in European funding rather than exerting energy to mitigate or avoid budget restrictions supported by the UK Government. The only way to achieve that is via a Yes vote this Thursday.”