Galloway and West Dumfries MSP, Finlay Carson, has today attacked the SNP Government’s tardiness in supporting the Scottish scallop industry following changes to fishing quotas implemented by the Isle of Man Government.
If the Manx Government’s new even more burdensome red tape rules get the go ahead then all fishing vessels will have to report to a Manx port for inspection of its catch.
This could end up requiring local fishermen to make a 10 hour round trip.
The issue was brought to the attention of Dumfries and Galloway Council last year, both the Labour Leader and SNP Co-leader had remained silent on the matter, despite Mr Carson lobbying the Government from as early as August 2017.
Commenting, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson said:
“The Scallop Industry needs reassurance that this SNP Government is fighting their corner because for far too long this appears not to be the case!
“I call on Nicola Sturgeon to step up to the mark and prove that she does not only care about the Central Belt!
“We cannot allow the Manx Government to unilaterally regulate our fishermen and do as it pleases.
“It is time to stand up to the Manx Government, put proposals on the table and go to arbitration if they are not willing to listen.
“We have an agreement; the Isle of Man need to stick to it.
“This issue has been brewing for months and the Manx Government have sought to implement protectionist rules which will be detrimental to the fishing fleets in my constituency.
“I first highlighted the problem to the SNP Fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing in August 2017 and have continuously raised it with his Government since then.
“In response to a written question I was led to believe that no changes could be made without the consent of all signatures to the Fisheries Management Agreement 2012.
“I was therefore shocked and disappointed to learn of the Manx Government proposals.
“It is alarming to hear that the Isle of Man are advocating that these additional protectionist measures are now only ‘on hold’ for a week to allow further discussions with the Scottish Government.
“The Scottish Government must now work closely with the Scallop Industry to ensure the Manx Government cannot put this vital industry at risk.
“Kirkcudbright, the UK’s busiest Scallop port, and the surrounding areas in the South West have too much to lose.
“The Kirkcudbright Scallop processing businesses and fishing fleets need tough action to be taken by the Scottish Government, who should not be bullied by the Isle of Man.
“Nobody is against sustainable catch limits but there is no need for our vessels to report into an Isle of Man Harbour every evening.
“I have raised this issue at both Scottish and UK Government level.
“I wrote to the SNP/Labour Controlled Dumfries and Galloway Council in November 2017 to ask if they were aware of the importance of this industry to our region.
“I was very disappointed by the initial response from , which stated that they had not had any engagement with the Scallop Sector locally.
“Under the new SNP/Labour Administration, the local fishing sector is not even represented or highlighted within their corporate priorities of plan.
“However, I am pleased to see that following my interventions, and that of Councillor Patsy Gilroy, Cllr Nicol and Conservative colleagues, it appears that the Leader of the Council is now supporting our fishing industry – long may that continue!”