Minister calls for clarity on post-Brexit fishing industry ahead of crunch talks

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The UK Government is being urged to “come clean” on its plans for the fishing industry after Brexit as ministers prepare for “difficult” quota talks.

Holyrood Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said all parties must work together in the run-up to crucial European fishing talks in December.

He claimed uncertainty over what will happen when the UK leaves the European Union was being compounded by “confusion” from the UK Government over any transition period.

Speaking ahead of talks with UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice and representatives from the fishing industry, Mr Ewing warned: “Against a backdrop of complex science and lack of agreement by the coastal states on some stocks, there is no doubt that this year’s fisheries negotiations will be difficult.”

The talks in Edinburgh on Friday, which also include representatives from the Welsh and Northern Irish administrations, are “an opportunity to show we are all fully focused on the needs and interests of our respective fishing industries,” he added.

Mr Ewing said: “I will be fighting to get the strongest possible outcome for Scotland.

“There is no doubt that the continued uncertainty and lack of clarity about what the future holds is uppermost in ministerial and stakeholders’ minds.

“That has been compounded by the UK Government’s confusion on what the transition period post-Brexit might mean for fisheries.

“The UK needs to come clean and share its future plans with us. I hope we can all focus on these vital current negotiations.

“Scotland’s fishing industry – both onshore and offshore – is currently in good economic health. I want to ensure that this continues.”

A spokesman for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We understand the importance of the fishing industry to Scotland and have consistently and successfully worked with devolved administrations to secure the best deal for UK fishermen at the annual quota negotiations.

“Today’s meeting provides a valuable opportunity to hear views from across the UK ahead of these crucial negotiations, helping us represent the interests of the whole fleet and deliver our objectives for sustainable fishing and a profitable industry.”

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