Scotland denied place at fisheries talks

The UK Government has confirmed an unelected member of the House of Lords will represent Scotland

at next month's informal Fisheries Council.

Scotland's Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead had requested to attend the talks in Vigo, Spain, which deal with the future of the Conmon Fisheries Policy (CFP), but this has been refused in a letter from UK Secretary of State Hilary Benn.

Mr Lochhead said:

"The fact that the UK Government would rather send an unelected member of the House of Lords to represent Scotland's fishing interests at such an important stage in the process of seeking radical changes to European fishing policy speaks volumes.

"Next month's meeting is hugely significant in terms of making our case for immediate and sweeping reforms to Europe's despised and damaging fishing policy.

"Scotland's fishing industry represents around 70 per cent of the UK's, and yet despite fisheries being devolved, our Government, our Parliament and coastal communities will be represented by a peer who has been drafted in at the last minute and has no background in fisheries. This would have been a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the priority we attach to the radical reform of European fishing policy.

"Despite this setback, we are pressing ahead with making Scotland's case for the delegation of decision making through other avenues. Later this month, the Scottish Government will participate in a workshop in the European Parliament, highlighting the potential benefits of a more regional and local approach to fisheries management. It's absolutely vital that the Commission's options paper, due to be published in June, reflects our priorities."

Source: ©Scottish Government

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