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Scotland 'should control' fishing quotas post-Brexit

Fergus Ewing said legislation on fishing arrangement must respect devolved settlements

Quotas: New legislation will replace EU laws.
Quotas: New legislation will replace EU laws. STV

Scotland should be handed full powers over setting fishing quotas in the new Fisheries Bill, its Rural Economy Secretary has said.

Fergus Ewing said the expected legislation on post-Brexit fishing arrangements in the UK must respect the devolved settlements.

The new legislation is expected to replace the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and enable the UK to control access to its waters and set UK fishing quotas once it has left the EU following a transition period.

The UK Government's white paper on fishing published in the summer outlined the UK will continue to abide by CFP during the transition period but from 2020 it will negotiate access to its waters as an independent coastal state.

Access to waters and fishing opportunities will be negotiated on an annual basis in a similar approach as other coastal states including Norway, the UK Government has said.

Concerns were raised this week over the possibility of the UK remaining in the CFP beyond the current end date of 2020, after the Prime Minister indicated the transition period could be extended to secure a Brexit deal.

Mr Ewing said he had been encouraged by an "improved level of discourse" between the UK and Scottish governments during the drafting of the bill, but he wants to ensure the devolved settlement is fully respected.

He said: "Scotland is best placed to look after and manage our significant fishing interests.

"To that end I expect the UK Government to recognise this and our devolved competencies.

"I expect powers to be transferred in full to the Scottish Parliament on important issues like the setting of quotas and days at sea, for example."

He added:"Scotland's voice must not be ignored and I wait with interest to see firm commitments within the bill protecting our interests."

'Scotland's voice must not be ignored and I wait with interest to see firm commitments within the bill protecting our interests.'
Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary

A spokeswoman for the UK Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We recognise the importance of fishing to the Scottish industry and we will continue to safeguard the interests of our vital fishing communities.

"Fisheries is devolved and the UK Government is committed to respecting the devolution settlements in the upcoming Fisheries Bill."

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said the priority for the fishing industry was to "secure sovereignty over our waters" as an independent coastal state.

He said: "It is gratifying to see that the Holyrood and Westminster governments are engaging on the detail of the Fisheries Bill.

"We would expect that to continue, with the focus remaining on ensuring the best possible outcome for our coastal communities and not constitutional wrangling.

"Fishermen are looking for practical solutions rather than political point-scoring."

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