A north-east MP has said a new Scottish Government blueprint for fishing contains “quite a bit” he agrees with.
David Duguid, Conservative member for Banff and Buchan, said it was also “refreshing” for Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing to be talking about Brexit in terms of it actually happening.
But Mr Duguid warned that none of the ideas put forward in the government’s national discussion paper – launched in Orkney yesterday – can be delivered unless there is a Brexit withdrawal deal.
The new document is aimed at giving individuals, businesses and communities involved in fishing their say in what a post-Brexit strategy for fisheries management should look like.
It spells out the government’s ambition of a more “flexible, reactive and responsive” approach through a new Future Catching Policy, while maintaining a commitment to quotas and a ban on discards at sea.
The paper also outlines plans to make sure a majority of landings from boats bigger than 33ft are into Scottish ports.
In addition, it makes clear Holyrood’s intention to press for Scotland to take the lead – whenever it has the “critical voice” on stocks and access arrangements in its waters – on behalf of the UK in future fishing negotiations as an independent coastal state.
Mr Duguid said: “There is actually quite a bit in this document that I would agree with and have actually already received assurances on, from the PM and other (UK) government ministers.
“What is most striking, however, is that almost none of what is in this document can be delivered, unless we leave the EU with a withdrawal agreement.
“So I would expect to see SNP MPs join me in the lobby next week in support of the PM’s deal.”
Mr Duguid added: “It is refreshing to hear an SNP minister talk about Brexit in terms of it actually happening.
“This may even be the first official document I have seen from the Scottish Government that suggests an actual strategy for being outside the EU.
“Nearly three years on from the EU referendum, the SNP finally recognise that Brexit offers opportunities for our fishing industry.”
Mr Ewing said he was encouraged by reactions to the document, particularly ideas for new recruits via quota incentives, at a meeting with industry representatives in Kirkwall.