Ian Gatt, President of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, has expressed serious concerns about access to UK fishing grounds being used as a bargaining chip in any trading deal negotiated with the EU after Brexit.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s CTEER committee, Ian Gatt, said ‘the key issue is access to our resource’ and that UK fishing grounds cannot be traded off for access to the EU single market.
Mr Gatt informed the committee that there needed to be better management of the fish stocks and that the EU is by far the largest export destination for UK fish. He said that there needed to be a trade deal with tariff free access to the EU as the preferred option for his industry.
He further commented that the benefits for the Fishing Industry in leaving the EU will be in having access to other markets and with the freezing of shellfish the possibilities open up of trading with the likes of India.
Non UK vessels currently take 60% of the catch in UK fishing grounds explained Mr Gatt and we need to have control over who is coming into our waters and what they are catching.
Ian Gatt repeated his fear that the Fishing Industry may be used as a bargaining chip and is seeking clarification after Prime Minister Theresa May’s comment concerning Spanish fishermen.
Informing the CTEER that the majority of fish, £450 million, is sold to the EU, Mr Gatt was not pessimistic and felt that it was in the EU’s interests to continue to trade with Scotland.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame