Against the background of high level discussions on where fisheries powers should be located…
Post-Election Horse Trading Concerns voiced by NFFO
The SNP has made no secret of its ambition to take the lead in representing the UK in the Council of Ministers on fisheries matters, despite the major constitutional issues such a move would raise. The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has expressed its deep concern about the potential for fishing to be sacrificed in the post-election horse-trading to form a UK government.
“At bottom this is a question of democratic mandate,” said Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO. “The UK Fisheries minister draws his legitimacy from the fact that he is answerable to the whole Westminster Parliament. A Scottish Fisheries Minister is only answerable to the Scottish Parliament. If a Scottish Minister was allowed to take the lead in Council under some unseemly back room deal, it would disenfranchise the whole fishing industry outside Scotland. This would be unacceptable at any level.”
The NFFO has written to all of the political parties highlighting the dangers of sacrificing fishing in this way in order to secure support for a government that does not secure a majority in the General Election.
“Only the General Election will give us the true picture but if, as the polls suggest, no one party has a majority, we can expect a period of instability in government as the negotiations proceed to form some form of formal or informal coalition. It is vitally important that the fishing industry outside Scotland is not traded away as a sop to the SNP on the spurious basis that more fish is landed in Scotland. In fact in terms of numbers of fishermen and economic value of landings, fishing is at least equally as important in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as it is in Scotland.”
“This is a matter of fundamental importance.”