The Scottish government wanted assurances that investment in its marine sector would continue at similar levels, compared with current EU funding. Scotland currently receives £103M of the UK’s total funding (£223M) from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Fergus Ewing, Scottish government’s rural economy secretary, said: “The UK government’s failure to acknowledge our concerns around future funding for coastal communities is disrespectful to the fishermen and businesses that rely on this investment.
‘Support in jeopardy’
“The prospect of Brexit places this support in jeopardy. We need the UK government to urgently confirm firstly, that investment in the marine sector will continue at levels which properly reflect the significance of the sector in the rural economy. Secondly, that Scotland will receive its fair share of future funding, as well as the power to determine how best to invest it.”
Ewing wanted clarifications from the environment secretary Michael Gove on how the government would support the Scottish marine sector’s businesses, processors, fishing, aquaculture and infrastructure after Brexit.
The current EU budget for Scotland included £81M to support jobs, businesses, infrastructure, research and development. The Scottish government also provided a further £53M to EMFF-funded projects.
Supports more than 400 jobs
Ewing’s comments came before a visit to Scotland’s second biggest whitefish landing port, Scrabster. Scrabster received £542,000 from the EMFF for its new ice plant, which was opened last month. The port has generated £25M for the local economy, and supports more than 400 jobs.
“Over the last year we have seen record values of salmon exports and fish landings, and we want to do all we can to ensure this success story continues,” said Ewing.
Scottish aquaculture supports more than 12,000 jobs, according to Scottish government. Atlantic salmon production alone accounted for 90% of all economic impact, supporting 10,340 full-time jobs, and generating £540M.