Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has condemned the UK Government for its decision to refuse the Scottish Fisheries Minister the opportunity to speak at critical EU talks on discards this week.
The Scottish Government’s Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead, who has been in post for 7 years, put in the request to the UK Government to speak in the talks. However, Conservative Lord deMauley was instead chosen to represent the UK in the discussions.
Matters being discussed at this week’s EU Council included the landing obligation, or ‘discards ban’, which fishing industry leaders have warned could be disastrous for Scottish fishing if key concessions are not won.
Commenting from Brussels, Mr Lochhead – who is Europe’s longest serving Fishing Minister – said:
“Today we found ourselves in the crazy position of un-elected Lord Rupert Ponsonby, 7th Baron de Mauley, representing the UK Government and making the briefest of interventions – after being passed a note by an official – on a crucial discussion on the issue of fish discards - an issue the Scots industry tell me is one of the most important they face.”
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, whose constituency hosts Europe’s largest fishing port, added her voice to the condemnation:
“This week’s Council meeting addressed issues which largely impact the Scottish industry yet an unelected Lord with next to no experience of fishing was chosen by Westminster to speak on the industry’s behalf. With the discards ban looming large on the horizon, we need the strongest voice for our fishermen. Instead, Scotland’s interests were completely frozen out of these critical talks.”
North East MSP Christian Allard attended the SFF’s annual dinner in Edinburgh last week where he heard SFF President Ross Dougal call for Scottish ministers to take the lead in negotiations where appropriate. Mr Allard commented:
“Only last week, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation supported calls for Scottish Ministers to be able to take the lead in fisheries negotiations. News of this farce will disappoint our fishermen at a time when they need the support most.”