I have no axe to grind in the independence debate but the sheer stupidity of Alex Salmond’s threat to exclude non-Scottish fishing vessels from Scottish fishing waters, and also to obstruct access to Norwegian waters, as weapons in his independence negotiations, sets alarm bells ringing.
Fishing is an industry Mr Salmond is supposed to know something about, having represented Banff and Buchan for many years. Yet the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has had to point out that what he is threatening is illegal in international law as well as deeply counter-productive for Scottish fishermen.
In 2012, there were £22 million worth of landings by Scottish fishing vessels into ports in the rest of the UK. The east coast prawn fishery was saved by fishing for stocks off the north-east of England.
Forty per cent of the “Scottish” scallop catch comes from the south-west of England. Scottish vessels fish for blue whiting in Irish waters and cod in Norwegian waters. I could go on.
The idea, promoted in Mr Salmond’s Bruges speech, that we should put all at this at risk, at least for the duration of negotiations over independence, displays breathtaking disregard for the interests of the Scottish fishing industry. Small wonder that he has been challenged by the SFF to explain his ridiculous remarks.
If Mr Salmond’s counter-productive bluster is replicated in other sectors of our economy, then heaven help Scotland in the event of him succeeding.
15 Balmoral Terrace