Scotland denied access to Fishing talks

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An SNP election candidate has called for Scotland to be involved in discussions on the future of the EU Common Fisheries Policy….

An SNP election candidate has called for Scotland to be involved in discussions on the future of the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

SNP candidate for the Orkney and Shetland John Mowat said:
“Scotland has a devolved government structure and a Scottish fisheries minister in Richard Lochhead. He looks after the fishing interests of all fishermen in Scotland.

“It is disappointing that Richard Lochhead has been denied access to the next CFP meeting, in Vigo, Spain, which will discuss reforms due to be completed by 2013.”

SNP Minister Richard Lochhead has expressed anger at not being allowed to attend the talks in Vigo, the Scottish fishing industry makes up 70 per cent of the entire UK fishing industry.

Mr Mowat attacked the decision to send an “unelected Member of the House of Lords” who has “no fisheries expertise” in order to represent the interests of Scottish towns and coastal communities.

Mr Mowat added:
“The fact that a retiring UK minister would rather send an unelected House of Lords representative, in preference to an elected Scottish minister, to represent Scotland’s vital fishing interests is hugely damaging and disappointing. A case needs to be made for sweeping change of the CFP, with much more regional and local control.

“This would have been a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the importance Scotland gives to fishing and to radical CFP reform.

“The Scottish Government will continue to make the case for reform through other channels, in spite of this huge setback to Scotland and its fishing industry.”

A workshop will be held shortly in the EU Parliament, highlighting the importance of a more regional and local approach to fisheries management. Northern European coastal nations have shown considerable interests in Scottish fishing industry’s conservation methods.

Richard Lochhead wrote to UK Minister Hilary Benn on 25th March and was made aware of the surprise decision to send Lord Davies only recently.

Mr Mowat said:
“Devolution will only be successful if the UK government treats ministers from Scotland and other devolved governments with respect when their vital interests are concerned.

“Winnie Ewing, when an MEP used to be told that Scotland’s representation depended on Scotland, having its own devolved government. Unfortunately the retiring Labour government has forgotten this.

“The future of fishing is hugely important to Scotland’s coastal and island communities. Ireland, Denmark, and Holland will be there at the meeting, but sadly, not Scotland. Perhaps proper representation for Scotland, in Europe can only come with independence.”