Boris Johnson met SFF and Scottish industry figures during a visit to Peterhead Fish Market. Image: SFF

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s backing for a national fishing strategy.

The SFF has long wanted to see a new blueprint for the industry as the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy, and according to the Federation, the Prime Minister agreed during a visit to Peterhead Fish Market that a coherent industry-wide approach to making the best of the opportunity that Brexit will present will allow the industry to grow.

‘We very much welcome the Prime Minister’s backing for our plan and we were pleased that he listened to and accepted the validity of the key points the SFF has been making since the EU referendum. He very much recognised that there is a Sea of Opportunity and that we need to seize it.’ said SFF chief executive Elspeth Macdonald.

The SFF’s key demands are that the UK becomes a sovereign coastal state and regains full control over its own waters, known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and that the UK and Scottish governments have the power to determine, in relation to our fisheries resource, who gets to catch what, where and when for the benefit of our coastal communities and wider economies.

The Federation also expects that the Scottish industry should be able to gain early wins in the form of quota uplift and year-on-year gains thereafter, and that sustainability will be enhanced by jettisoning the practice enshrined in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of allocating quota according to historical precedent (relative stability) and moving to a modern and evidence based method of allocation according to where fish stocks actually are (zonal attachment).

The SFF is adamant that there should be no linkage should be made between access to UK waters (for EU vessels) and access to EU markets (for UK fish traders or other industries).

‘The UK must resist any temptation to reach a backroom deal that erodes in any way these fundamental tenets,’ Elspeth Macdonald said.
‘This would be regarded within the industry as a betrayal of previous and current political promises, and Mr Johnson was left in no doubt of that today.’