Ukip leader Nigel Farage has insisted vital European Union funding to support north and north-east fishing communities will not be missed.
Speaking during a Brexit campaign visit to Aberdeen yesterday, Mr Farage said any loss of fisheries funding from Brussels would be more than compensated for by savings worth billions of pounds in the event of the UK quitting the EU.
Peterhead harbour’s planned £49million redevelopment and a proposed new fish market at Lerwick are among Scottish projects expected to benefit from an £83million share of the £4.9billion European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) between now and 2020.
New Scottish Fishing Minister Fergus Ewing recently warned a Brexit could leave a gaping black hole in the finances of the industry, with no guarantee the UK Treasury would step in and fill the gap.
But Mr Farage said yesterday the EMFF cash was a poor reason for staying with the EU and its “bonkers” fishing policies.
The UK would save £10billion by withdrawing from the EU, he added.
Ukip’s leader swept into Aberdeen Exhibition And Conference Centre for a Fishing for Leave conference organised by fishers campaigning for a Brexit.
The event took place at the same venue to the Skipper Expo International fishing show but was not officially part of it.
Mr Farage shared a stage with fellow Brexit supporter George Eustice, the UK fishing minister, who is on the opposite side to his own prime minister during the in-out EU referendum campaign.
And delivering a passionate speech about the ills of the EU’s much-despite Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its “devastating” impact on the Scottish industry, Ayrshire-based skipper and Fishing for Leave founder Aaron Brown had plenty of supporters among the 100-strong audience.
The trio were probably preaching to the converted as Brussels has few friends in the sector after years of savage quota and days-at-sea cuts in order to conserve stocks.
Mr Farage, who was once chastised for poor attendance as a member of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, said: “We want our country back and we want our fishing back.
“I don’t believe my grandfathers fought two world wars so that we could go to Brussels to beg from the table.”
Signing up to the European Treaty and CFP was a betrayal of the UK fishing industry, he said, adding: “We have a better chance of the people making decisions are directly accountable.”