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Scottish independence: Fishing boat ban fears

The Scottish Fishermens Federation has written to the First Minister. Picture: Getty

The Scottish Fishermens Federation has written to the First Minister. Picture: Getty

  • by KATRINE BUSSEY
 

Fishing leaders have demanded that Alex Salmond clarifies comments he made suggesting an independent Scotland could block other countries from its waters if it was denied membership of the European Union.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has written to the First Minister asking for further information.

Chief executive Bertie Armstrong said the SFF was taking a neutral position on the independence referendum, but he stressed the need to “seek clarity over issues” on behalf of its members.

In the letter, Mr Armstrong raised concerns that barring EU fishing vessels from Scottish waters “would be contrary to the principle of innocent passage laid down in the law of the sea”.

The SFF also demanded to know if there was any risk that a Yes vote could leave the sector worse off than at present.

Mr Armstrong said: “As an organisation we are apolitical and are adopting a neutral position in the referendum debate. But we have been charged by our membership to ask questions and seek clarity over issues raised in the debate, so as to enable individual fishermen to make their own minds up.

“In particular, we are interested in expansion on his comment that if Scotland were denied EU entry, then this could lead to the fishing fleets of 12 countries being denied any access to Scottish waters and as a consequence, their access to Norwegian waters, which is also dependent on Scottish access.”

Labour MSP Claire Baker said the SFF was “right to raise the concerns of their sector, which would face the realities of the First Minister’s bluff and bluster”.

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