Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy spokesperson Colin Smyth has said the fishing industry in the south of Scotland is being badly let down by the Brexit trade deal and is urging stronger action from the Scottish Government to help support the sector.

Many people across South Scotland rely on the fishing sector and the local MSP raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. It comes as Scottish fishing industry leaders reported imminent collapse of the sector with distribution of thousands of tons of fish held up by Brexit red tape and paperwork.

Questioning Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing on Thursday, Colin Smyth said: “The fact that the Brexit trade deal is neither what Scotland’s fishing sector needed nor what it was promised will not surprise anyone.

“The devastating delays that the sector is facing were entirely predictable.

“There is anger and frustration from our fishers, who have been badly let down. However, they do not want to be used as a constitutional football by two Governments—they want solutions now.

“In addition to raising concerns—rightly—with the UK Government about the need for compensation and to tackle the bureaucratic burden currently crippling the sector, will the cabinet secretary tell us what specific additional resources the Scottish Government is bringing to the table to speed up the checks for which Scottish Government agencies have responsibility?

“Will there be additional financial support for the sector from the Scottish Government, to get it through these difficult months?”

A Scottish Government statement on the fishing sector warned of a “bleak future” for the industry.

The UK Government’s trade deal could see access to fewer fishing opportunities for the sector than they currently have under the existing Common Fisheries Policy arrangements – even at the end of the five-and-half-year adjustment period.

Speaking after the debate, Colin Smyth said: “Many people locally work in different aspects of the fishing industry and they are seriously suffering due to Brexit red tape and paperwork.

“What we need now is for the UK and Scottish Governments to step up to the mark and find real solutions to this mess.”

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