Scottish fishing chiefs got the reassurances they were seeking at talks with UK Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington in Aberdeen yesterday.
Mr Lidington was in the Granite City to listen to any concerns about Brexit – and to reinforce the UK Government’s “commitment to a positive future for Scotland and the UK”.
But he was unable to give any guarantees over continued access to key EU markets for Scottish seafood, or for the government matching subsidies currently awarded from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Mr Lidington reiterated the government’s position, as set out in a white paper on fishing, that trade and access to fishing grounds are separate issues.
The rest of the EU wants trade and access rights to be dealt with together, with a view to securing better fishing opportunities in UK waters.
On EMFF funding, currently worth millions of pounds to the Scottish fishing industry, the government says only that future support will come from a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Mr Lidington said it was too early to say how much this fund is likely to be worth, or how much cash there will be for fishing projects.
He added: “The government is determined to maximise opportunities that will arise for the Scottish and whole UK fishing industry.”
Fishing leaders he met included Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong, who said the industry would be “watching very carefully to see what unfolds”.
Mr Armstrong added: “We don’t give away oil and gas, or shares of our whisky, so why on earth should we continue to do it for fish.”