A leading spokesman for the Scottish seafood industry insists the sector has a bright future despite “doomsday economic reports” about its prospects after Brexit.
Jimmy Buchan, celebrity north-east skipper and now also business manager for the Scottish Seafood Association – the national body for processors north of the border – said yesterday he found it frustrating to read the latest gloomy report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF).
It claimed Brexit posed a “severe threat” to fishing communities, because of likely trade barriers, and warned it could even lead to overfishing.
Mr Buchan, who played a starring role in the BBC’s award-winning Trawlermen series, said: “I have challenged myself to read this document in full but failed to keep focused throughout.
“It certainly does not paint a picturesque image of what the industry could look like post Brexit.
“However, with the wisdom and experience of what the EU model has done to the UK fishing and processing sector, I’m still inclined to believe that, with the correct deal and willingness from all, we can flourish beyond the negativity of some of these doomsday economic reports.”
He added: “When we note the effort and fish caught by EU vessels in our waters, it beggars believe that our fishermen and processors won’t have more access to more raw materials.
“This does not mean that no other vessels will fish our waters – no one has ever said that.
“The sovereign state will dictate who fishes in our waters and by how much, meaning we will manage the stocks much more stringently.
“We may have to endure a difficult period to benefit for the long-term gain . . . but people need to eat.
“We have the stocks in our waters and, politics aside, people will create the market.
“I’m not convinced that Brexit could be so bleak for an industry that is headed up with some truly forward and committed fishing and processing businessmen.”