Former Cod Crusader Carol MacDonald met two north-east Conservative politicians in Fraserburgh yesterday, seeking “clarity” about their party’s approach to Brexit and fishing.
MSP Peter Chapman and Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said they shared her “frustration and disappointment” over last week’s interim EU withdrawal deal, when the Tory government in London announced UK fishing would continue to be governed by Brussels for two years beyond Brexit.
Ms MacDonald, who for years campaigned against savage cuts to quotas and days at sea for the North Sea fishing fleet, said the two politicians’ hands were tied.
She added: “They are not pleased that the carpet’s been pulled from under their feet.
“It is going to take longer for our fisheries to come out of the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy).
“There will be quite a lot of pressure on the prime minister and her negotiating team.
“If the fishing industry and communities want the transition to be any shorter, there is going to have to be constant communication to Theresa May by e-mails and letters.”
The meeting was hosted by seafood processor G&J Jack Seafoods, which provides jobs for about 90 people.
Ms MacDonald said the Tory duo met some of the younger members of the workforce, including 20-year-old fish grader Reece Robertson.
“This is all about the future of young people like Reece,” she said, adding: “He has been employed by the company for only eight months, and made a heartfelt plea to Peter and David which nearly broke my heart.
“He told them he was so grateful to have the opportunity to work in the industry, but without their help it would have no future. I really felt the guy’s passion.”
Mr Chapman and Mr Duguid also spoke passionately about the industry, Ms MacDonald said, adding: “It was good that they understood where we were coming from.
“We are all singing from the same hymn sheet on this.”
John Buchan, skipper of the Atlantic Challenge, also took part in the meeting and factory tour on behalf of campaign group Fishing Onward to Brexit.
In a joint statement, Mr Chapman and Mr Duguid said: “We are always more than happy to meet with constituents in our fishing communities and we had a constructive discussion this morning.
“We share the frustration and disappointment about the EU transition . . . and we are working hard on behalf of our fishing sector to get the best possible deal.
“We must remain focused on the end state – we are leaving the EU, leaving the disastrous CFP and we have the chance to take control of our waters for the first time in more than 40 years.”
Fishing chiefs are furious over what they see as a betrayal akin to Ted Heath’s “sell-out” of fisheries in the run-up to the UK joining the old European Economic Community in 1973.
They have called the decision to “capitulate” to EU demands that Britain continues to abide by its fishing rules beyond March 2019 “extremely harmful”.