Michael Gove urged to make changes to Fisheries Bill by Scottish minister

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing has written to Michael Gove calling for changes to the UK Fisheries Bill.

Although critical that Scottish Ministers only received the final version the day before it was laid in Parliament, Mr Ewing described the Bill as having “broadly positive outcomes”.

However, due to “unresolved concerns”, the Inverness and Nairn MSP has now urged the Environment Secretary to make several amendments to the Bill over seafood levies, fishing quotas and effort limits.

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Mr Ewing is calling for the Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) to be able to operate differently in different parts of the UK and also for Westminster to devolve control of levies imposed by Seafish to Scotland.

Michael Gove. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

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In the letter to Mr Gove, he wrote: “It is the long-held view of the Scottish Government that the existing Seafish levy is not fit for purpose, providing an inadequate level of support to the sector in Scotland and resulting in insufficient marketing and promotion of Scottish seafood.”

On the contentious subject of quota and effort limits, Mr Ewing said: “I remain unambiguously of the view that the Scottish Parliament’s legislative consent is required,” and demanded an amendment that any change “should only be taken with the consent of the Scottish Ministers.”

Referencing a pledge made during the EU referendum campaign that any lost funding would be replaced to ensure there is “no detriment” to the devolved administrations, Mr Ewing called on the Secretary of State to add an amendment committing the Government to matching the contributions from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

He added: “Such an amendment would ensure that the vital contribution made by EMFF to supporting sustainable growth in Scottish fisheries and aquaculture, inland waters, the seafood supply chain, conservation of the marine environment and growth and jobs in coastal communities will be maintained.”