Demands for urgent support after Shetland fishing fleet left ‘bitterly disappointed’ by Brexit agreement

Politicians have made calls for urgent action to support Shetland’s seafood sector, which has been left “bitterly disappointed” by the Brexit fisheries agreement. 

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart and isles MP Alistair Carmichael both raised grave concerns on Friday about the challenges facing local fleets. 

Their calls followed reports in The Shetland Times that seafood producers were losing tens of thousands of pounds due to new Brexit paperwork. 

Ms Wishart, speaking during statement in Holyrood on the management of Scotland’s fisheries, said the Shetland fleet was “bitterly disappointed” by the Brexit fisheries agreement.

She sought assurances the industry would be fully involved in designing a workable catching policy. and called on both UK Government and Scottish Government to work together to urgently resolve trade issues damaging Scottish seafood exporters and make sure they are adequately compensated.

“The Shetland fishing industry is understandably disappointed with the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

“Island voices need to be fully involved in designing new policies to guarantee the long-term success of this important industry for Shetland.”

Meanwhile, Mr Carmichael said fishermen felt angry and betrayed by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

His comments referenced a recent letter from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, which said the industry faced “the worst of both worlds” after leaving the EU, and that “many in our industry now fear for their future”.

Mr Carmichael said: “The level of anger from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation for Boris Johnson should come as no surprise after the past few weeks.

“They feel betrayed by the Prime Minister and rightly so.

“This is not what the industry was promised in 2016 and indeed just a few months ago the government continued to pretend that they would hold to commitments on zonal attachment and annual negotiation.

“Those commitments have been cast aside and our fishermen are paying the price for the Government’s lack of political will.”

The Scottish government’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing has also urged Westminster to act quickly, including with urgent compensation to support affected business. 

He said the way Scotland’s seafood sector has been treated since the end of the EU Exit Transition Period had been “scandalous”.

“Previously booming businesses have been left to rot as a result of extensive bureaucracy forced on them by a poor Brexit deal,” he said. 

“Relationships and contracts that have been in place for decades are ending.

“World class food is being unnecessarily wasted.

“Family businesses are failing. It is imperative that the UK government acts, and acts now, to provide adequate support to these businesses.”


Add Your Comment
  • Brian Smith

    • January 16th, 2021 12:32

    I’m looking forward to John Tulloch’s explanation about how Brexit has benefited the fishing industry.

  • Ali Inkster

    • January 16th, 2021 14:40

    If all foreign boats fishing in UK waters were required to land their catch at a UK port, these problems would be sorted in no time at all.
    The very fact that the eu can still fish unrestricted in our waters means they have no incentive to sort this out.
    Whether it is holyrood and their obsession to join the eu or westminster and their indifference to anything north of Watford. Neither master bodes well for Shetlands future prosperity.
    Better and clear a da lot a dem

  • Kerrie Meyer

    • January 18th, 2021 10:23

    This news item doesn’t surprise me and illustrates the tip of the iceberg of post-Brexit issues for the UK fishing industry. My contact down south who’s at the sharp end of the industry, and was advising DEFRA was warning about potential disruptions over three years ago, informs me fresh fish and shellfish by the truck load is currently being dumped along the UK south coast due to the impossibly to get vehicles access into France due to bureaucracy and the lack of sufficient and correct documentation such as catch, medical & veterinary certificates that exporters are failing to satisfy the authorities at the EU border! In addition to their huge losses, the exporters are being forced to pay to clean up their dumped cargo!

    To add insult to injury, last week the EU announced details of a €600 million EU support scheme for affected fishing communities along the English channel (UK excluded obviously).  Not only is that six times what our government proposed spending (and then quietly dropped it almost immediately) it comes at a time when UK fish that has been caught is now being actively dumped in bins.


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