The Scottish fishing industry is set to be left high and dry by Brexit, an SNP MSP has warned.
Stewart Stevenson claims that the agreement reached for Northern Ireland leaves Scotland at a competitive disadvantage
Even in the event that no trade deal is reached between the UK and Europe in the months ahead, Northern Ireland would face no tariffs or trade barriers with the EU.
The SNP warns that fishermen in Northern Ireland will have unfettered access to 500 million consumers in Europe’s single market, while Scottish vessels won’t – potentially devastating sales of Scottish fish and an entire processing and haulage sector.
Scottish vessels could move their registration to Northern Ireland to maintain market access. This would also hammer Scottish ports, most of the onshore sector and cost thousands of jobs in Scotland.
Those in the small-batch, high value export seafood business such as creel fishermen may be hit particularly hard. Alistair Sinclair from the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation told BBC Scotland that trade barriers could “kill the sector stone dead if we can’t get access to markets”.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said: “Boris Johnson has made huge promises to Scottish fishing which he knows he can’t keep.
“Scottish fishing looks set to be sold out once again.
“The only agreement so far reached is for Northern Ireland’s fishing industry. Scotland it appears is a low-priority afterthought.
“Some skippers and crews will simply decide they can’t compete when placed at such a disadvantage and hang up their oilskins for good.
He added: “Others might move their home ports to Northern Ireland — though that would decimate an entire onshore processing sector, with thousands of jobs lost. It would be a disaster. “